In the past two weeks, I have been using Ray-Ban Meta glasses to secretly take photos and videos of people during my daily activities, such as in parks, on trains, inside stores, and at restaurants. The glasses, developed by Meta in collaboration with Ray-Ban, contain a camera, speakers, and microphones, and are intended to help users “live in the moment” while sharing their experiences. According to Meta, these glasses are part of a larger effort in Silicon Valley to bring computing closer to our faces and away from screens on smartphones and computers. Apple and Magic Leap have also been promoting mixed-reality headsets that use cameras to interact with the real world.
Wearable face computers have not been very popular in the past due to their bulky and unsightly designs. However, the Ray-Ban Meta glasses have a sleek and lightweight design that allows them to blend seamlessly into everyday life. The glasses were so discreet that no one, including my editor, was aware that I was wearing them and recording video. However, the glasses’ privacy implications and potential to cause distractions concern me.
Throughout my daily activities such as climbing, driving, and working, I found that wearing the glasses made me feel distracted and less focused. The glasses also didn’t offer any capabilities that couldn’t already be achieved with a smartphone. Despite the glasses featuring LED lights to indicate when the camera is in use, I was able to take photos and videos in public places without anyone noticing or confronting me about it. Some experts have raised concerns about smart glasses enabling individuals to engage in harmful behaviors such as taking surreptitious photos. The glasses were, however, effective at capturing everyday moments that I wouldn’t typically record with a smartphone.
Overall, while the glasses had some useful features, the potential costs of lost privacy and distraction may outweigh their benefits for most consumers. Despite this, it’s possible that future apps and developments in smart glasses could make them more appealing to a wider audience.