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Smart glasses need to be stylish to really go mainstream

by Norman Scott

When I first laid eyes on the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice that something was missing. While the event space was carefully prepared to showcase the different frames, colors, and lenses, from a distance, they all blended together. It became clear that the limited style options posed a significant problem.

In terms of functionality, the Meta smart glasses exceeded my expectations. The photo and video quality was dramatically improved with the new 12MP camera, and the addition of five microphones addressed the issue of audio leakage. The sound quality was also greatly improved and supported spatial audio. The ability to livestream with these glasses made them appealing to content creators and home video enthusiasts. However, despite their impressive features, I couldn’t help but feel dissatisfied with the two pairs I tried on – the Wayfarer and the new rounded Headliner.

The Wayfarer frames, although a popular and classic style, overpowered my face and made my eyes appear smaller – a feature I’m self-conscious about. This short demo made me realize that having 150 variations of frames wouldn’t matter if none of them suited my preferences. This is where Zenni Optical comes in. With countless frames to choose from in various materials, colors, and lenses, I am confident that I will find a pair that makes me feel good when I look at myself in the mirror.

The issue of limited style options is not unique to the Meta smart glasses. I’ve experienced the same problem with every other pair of smart glasses I’ve worn in the past, including the Focals by North, Bose Frames, and various Google Glass prototypes. Creating smart glasses that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing is a challenging task. Factors such as low nose bridges, strong prescriptions, astigmatism, and face shapes need to be considered. However, it is difficult to design glasses that work for everyone when everyone has different preferences and features.

While most people may look good in Wayfarers, it doesn’t mean that everyone wants to wear them. They may look better as sunglasses, but this makes them largely impractical for indoor use. Finding a balance between functionality and style is crucial for the success of smart glasses. If smart glasses are ever going to become mainstream, companies need to provide as many style options as one would find online or at an optician.

The failures of Google Glass and Epson’s Moverio glasses serve as reminders that outlandish designs and privacy concerns can lead to ridicule and rejection. The Echo Frames, which had an unremarkable design, quickly faded into obscurity. It’s clear that if smart glasses are going to be widely adopted, looks matter. People need to feel comfortable and confident wearing them, and this can only be achieved through a wide array of style options.

That being said, the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses may have a chance of success. Priced at $300, they are on par with regular Ray-Bans, making them more accessible to the average consumer. Additionally, the clear use case of hands-free video that can be easily shared on social media platforms adds to their appeal. While 150 variations may not be enough to satisfy everyone, it certainly increases the chances of finding a combination that suits individual preferences.

Ultimately, the functionality of these glasses is just as important as their style. Despite my reservations about how I look in them, I remain cautiously optimistic that the upgrades to the Meta smart glasses will make them more appealing. Only time will tell, but I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to try them out for myself.

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