While I won’t go as far as predicting that the upcoming Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses will be an instant hit, I can confirm that the creators have addressed a significant issue with their previous iteration. Unveiled at the Meta Connect event in Menlo Park, California, these new smart sunglasses can livestream video directly to Facebook and Instagram, which is a notable improvement.
The glasses come in the classic Wayfarer design and a new Headliner style, appearing like ordinary eyeglasses or sunglasses, depending on the lenses. Two round modules on each side of the frame stand out. On the right side is a 12-megapixel camera capable of taking photos and recording video in 1080p. The other side, which looks nearly identical for symmetry, houses an LED light that signals when you’re recording.
This LED indicator is a valuable addition to ensure transparency and discourage any misuse. Without it, recording people without their knowledge would be relatively easy. Meta has implemented a fail-safe mechanism – if you cover the LED with black tape, you’ll receive a message prompting you to remove it, and the system won’t take photos or record in this state.
The Ray-Ban Meta also features open-ear speakers (not bone conduction) that can reach 50% higher volume compared to their predecessors. While they excel in situational awareness, they don’t offer passive noise cancellation, which means they may struggle to be heard in noisy environments.
Unfortunately, you can’t pair AirPods or other external headphones directly to the glasses, so you’ll have to rely on the built-in audio hardware for music and calls.
There’s a wide range of design options available, with over 150 combinations possible, including frame colors, styles, and lens types, from clear to sunglasses, transitions, and prescription lenses. There’s even a transparent frame option, providing a glimpse of the underlying technology.
The Ray-Ban Meta is available for pre-order in several markets, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Germany, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden.
They will go on sale starting October 12 through Meta, LensCrafters, Amazon, and Best Buy, with prices starting at $299 for standard lenses, $329 for polarized lenses, and $379 for transition lenses. Prescription lens pricing varies.