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Let me tell you a Story

(Disclaimer: As of the time of writing this story, I work at Meta Reality Labs. However, I do not work on teams associated with the RayBan Stories glasses. Everything below represents my own opinion, and is not sponsored by Meta. Also, there are no affiliate links on this page - or this website, for that matter.)

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A woman wearing RayBan Stories glasses
↑ That's not me. I'm an old dude. (source)

How it all started

(2023 Update: This page refers to the original RayBan Stories. Ray-Ban and Meta have since released a new product called Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses. I've bought them as well.)

A year or two ago, Meta (then Facebook) released a new product from their Reality Labs division called RayBan Stories. They are RayBan glasses that contain speakers, cameras, and microphones. You can use them to listen to music, take phone calls, send and receive messages, and capture photos or videos.

When I first saw them, I thought they looked interesting. It was a new category (well, with the main exception of Google Glass) of product that I hadn't explored before. I bought myself a pair of the standard Wayfarer design glasses (they also come in Round and Meteor shapes), and started poking around to see what they could do.

I expected to find them an interesting curiosity, but wasn't sure how I would use them. To my surprise, I fell in love with them. I initially wore them over my contact lenses, but eventually ended up buying a pair of third-party lenses (scratch coat, clear coat, Transitions Generation 8, progressives, UV coat) and installing them myself (very difficult, not recommended).

Never before in history

As a quick aside, one of the things that I noticed about the RayBan Stories is that they are the first - and only, so far - piece of consumer electronics that I've ever owned that are still useful to me when the batteries are completely dead. They still allow me to see, and they still protect my eyes from the sun. Nifty.

So why do I love my Stories?

First, I have terrible autobiographical memory, and over the years have settled into a routine of taking hundreds and hundreds of photos to remember things. This is especially true when I am on vacation, as the moments will quickly evaporate from my memory – and photos are what help me to re-live what I've experienced. However, it can be awkward to constantly pull out my phone to capture what would otherwise be considered a mundane moment (boarding a plane, walking across a particular street, seeing a bit of interesting graffiti). I've found the RayBan Stories to be a perfect companion to help me capture that b-roll of my life.

Second, the RayBan stories are fantastic for getting technology the hell out of the way when you're trying to experience something. During my travels, I frequently see people experiencing something through the screen of their phone: They're not actually looking at the whales, they're looking at the whales on their screen. They're not watching the Flamenco dancers, they're watching little grainy images of the dancers on their iPhone Super Max Pro Ultimate 27. What the RayBan Stories do is bring you back into the moment. See something interesting? Hit the record button and then ignore the camera - just experience the moment. It's transformative.

The 'B-Roll' of my life

Here's a perfect example. We were on a photo safari in Tanzania, and arrived just as the Wildebeest were crossing the river. I didn't have time to grab my DSLR, fiddle with the settings, and then experience the whole event through the viewfinder. Instead, I just hit the record button on the RayBan Stories, sat back, and lived the moment.

↑ Thanks, YouTube, for the vertical bars on each side

My rules

As with any technology, you need to not be a butthead when you're using it. Here are the rules that I've set up for myself:

I don't take pictures where I'm not supposed to, like museums or theaters.
I don't take photos of people without them knowing, unless it's a broader shot in public (like people milling around a monument)
If I'm traveling with people, I let them know that my glasses can take photos and videos
I turn off my glasses before going through security, passport control, restrooms, or any other sensitive locations

Let's see some photos!

All photos below are unretouched, directly from the glasses, unless otherwise stated.

Entirely decent shots

The RayBan Stories take great photos, especially for sharing on social media. I mean, I wouldn't blow them up to a billboard size, but they're quite good for 5MP.

A palm tree against a blue sky
↑ A palm tree in Jamaica

Beach scene with three swimmers, two feet, and a towel
↑ Relaxing on the beach in Jamaica

Two men on a boat in the SF bay
↑ Capturing a candid while on a birthday tour for my wife

View of the mountains
↑ Catching vistas while snowboarding

View of Tanzania plains from a hot air balloon
↑ Staying 'in the moment' while in a hot air balloon, while still capturing a memory

Three lawn chairs and two young men in a lush environment overlooking the hills
↑ Enjoying a break from the travels

Shelves with skincare products
↑ My wife, shopping for cute skincare products

A market stand with lots of fruit
↑ My wife, taking photos of the fruit on offer

Capturing memories

These are the shots that I love. They're not something that I'd pull out my phone for (much less a DSLR) but they're the ones that help me recapture the moment.

Inside of a van with three people and early morning sun
↑ The morning sun warms up the Land Rover as we head out early to take photos

Young man taking a photo in Tanzania
↑ My son, focusing the shot

Rough roads in Tanzania, from inside the car
↑ Driving rough roads in Tanzania

A zebra in Tanzania
↑ Grabbing a shot out the side window of the car

Following local people as they hunt for food in Tanzania
↑ Capturing the start of the hunt

Inside of a van in Mongolia
↑ Remembering how owner designed the interiors of their Russian Uaz vans in Mongolia

A wedding group in front of a facility
↑ Grabbing a quick candid of a wedding party in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

A roadside stand selling drinks
↑ Roadside stand selling drinks that are cooled by cascading snow runoff

Interior of a large mosque in Istanbul
↑ Glasses falter a bit in the dark, but still captures the essence of the experience

Shopping at the grocery store
↑ Helping buy things for his first apartment, without embarrassing him with a cameraphone

Where a phone is impractical

Sometimes, it just doesn't make sense to try and pull out a mobile phone and take the shot. This is where the RayBan Stories really shine.

Driver's-eye view of a go-kart
↑ Getting ready to drive go-karts, and my phone is in my pants pocket under the seatbelt

A yellow taxicab in Istanbul
↑ Grabbing a quick shot after the worst cab ride ever, while in the middle of the street

A yak, I think
↑ A quick capture while in the throng of people and animals, just before my yak ride

A small, light blue Aero Mongolia plane on the runway
↑ Capturing the experience of boarding a small plane from the tarmac (photos were allowed)

A Toyota Prius with the back open, full of bras for sale
↑ Seeing bras for sale in a Prius in Ulaanbaatar, and my wife saying 'grab a shot of that'

Random captures

A pool marker stating 4-foot 0-inches, but the 4 is backwards
↑ There's something wrong with that four

A power transformer box on the street with stickers and graffiti
↑ Grabbing shots of graffiti without slowing down the rest of the tour group (I like that little peace gesture in the upper right)


Many of the photos on this page were taken while on photo trips with the inimitable McKay Photography Academy tours. Check them out.


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