For several years now, technology groups have been trying to establish digitally upgraded glasses as a product category, but their success with end consumers has so far been limited.

A downright notorious example is Google's Google Glass data glasses, which were launched with great hype in 2013.

The initial fascination with the minicomputer sitting on the nose was quickly over.

The device looked clunky, and many people found it an invasion of their privacy because it allowed more inconspicuous photography than smartphones.

Wearers of the glasses were given the unflattering nickname “Glassholes” and the devices were banned in many places.

After a few years, Google took action and stopped selling the glasses to end users.

Roland Lindner

Business correspondent in New York.

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Now Facebook is venturing into the market: On Thursday, the social network presented its first digital glasses. It is a cooperation with Ray-Ban - the devices are also sold under this brand and not under Facebook's name. The "Ray-Ban Stories" have a starting price of $ 299 and come in twenty different versions. It will initially be available in the USA and some other countries such as Great Britain, Canada and Italy, but not yet in Germany for the time being.

Completely different from the Google glasses, Facebook's Ray-Bans come very close in their appearance to ordinary glasses, the two cameras are comparatively inconspicuous.

They can be used to take photos and videos of up to thirty seconds in length, either by pressing a button or with the voice command “Hey Facebook”.

They also have built-in speakers and can be used to listen to music and take calls.

You are linked to a new smartphone app called “Facebook View”.

From there, the content imported from the glasses can be shared on various social networks, on Facebook's own services or other platforms such as TikTok.

No “Augmented Reality” function yet

As announced by Facebook, the Ray-Ban Stories will be the first product in a long-term partnership with the Italian-French eyewear company EssilorLuxottica. They do not yet have an “augmented reality” function that would allow digital elements to be faded in. It would be natural for Facebook to plan this for future versions. Board chairman Mark Zuckerberg has spoken often about the potential of AR. Allegedly Apple is working on digital glasses with AR functionality. Snap, the parent company of the social network Snapchat, introduced a new version of its “Spectacles” digital glasses this year that can work with AR, but are not yet available to the general public. Snap first released its Spectacles in 2016, so far there have been three generations.The devices haven't drawn nearly as much hostility as Google's glasses, but neither have they become mass-produced.

Facebook's advance in this area is sensitive because these digital glasses raise data protection issues and the group is often criticized for its data protection practices anyway. Facebook is apparently aware of this. The company says privacy was a big part of the development of the devices, and there is a dedicated website that explains how to ensure the privacy of those who wear glasses and those around them. Among other things, LED lamps on the glasses switch on automatically when photos or videos are taken. The page also contains rules of etiquette. It says, for example, that glasses should be switched off in certain places such as churches, doctor's offices or public toilets.

Meanwhile, Google Glass is still not completely gone. The group continues to work on versions of the glasses that are intended for use in companies. This is also the focus of the Hololens digital glasses from Microsoft.

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