Meta’s Ray-Ban Wayfarers: The Ultimate Face Computer for VR Enthusiasts

Adrienne So

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I am a menace. I walk around, nattering constantly to myself. More accurately, I natter constantly to my sunglasses. “Hey Meta, take a look. What kind of tree is that?” “Hey Meta, take a look. Does this concrete need resurfacing?” I’m listening to podcasts on my run through the built-in speakers. I’m using the camera embedded in the frame to take pictures of my parents’ yard so I can send critical texts to the gardener. I’m using the onboard microphone to query the internet, checking to see if the food cart is open.

My Meta Ray-Ban Wayfarers and I have grown inseparable. I recently told my husband that I want to get a second pair with clear prescription lenses, so I can stop walking around the house at night wearing sunglasses. “Is that really what you want to do?” he asked, a bit nervously. Yes, it is what I want to do.

Unlike clunky goggles or recent AI-powered hardware swings like the Humane Ai pin or the Rabbit R1, the Meta glasses are a stylish and useful addition to my technology quiver that integrate seamlessly into my real life. The future of wearable computing is here, and it looks just like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

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Let’s address the first, and most obvious, point with Meta’s approach: Sunglasses serve an actual purpose. They protect my eyes, and they keep me from squinting outside. Also, they happen to make me look like a badass. I’ve worn the classic black Wayfarers for decades (I also have them in white, for when I’m feeling sassy), and the fact that I already like how I look in them is excellent motivation to get me to wear them. By partnering with Ray-Ban, Meta has capitalized on a preexisting fashion icon and taken a shortcut to familiarity. These look almost exactly the same as the regular glasses, and they’re only a few grams heavier.

The smart features aren’t immediately obvious, so I can throw these on and bike to pick up my kids from school without looking like a Google Glasshole. The only time anyone has looked at me sideways for wearing them is when a friend greeted me while walking past my house, and I stood there like a lump because I was listening to the latest episode of Every Single Album while watering the garden.

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Right now, they’re my favorite pair of workout headphones, because I only have to grab one accessory instead of two when I head out the door. My poor ears are the coat hooks of my head—now, instead of trying to thread my earbuds around my hat, hair, and sunglasses, I can just slip these on. As we noted in our review of the Meta smart glasses, the little speakers that sit over your ears have startlingly good audio quality. They get plenty loud enough to hear while running outside in a midsize city; the mandolin strums in the Band’s “Atlantic City” sound clear and shiny.

It’s also incredibly convenient to be able to receive and make calls and listen to texts while I’m running without having to pull out my phone. I understand that a lot of people want to be able to zone out on a run, but I will stop whatever I’m doing if I get a call or text from my spouse, my kids, my kids’ school, or my parents. It’s not hard to imagine how much more fun this would be if I could make video calls while walking around. It’s not terribly likely for me personally, given that my family doesn’t use WhatsApp or Messenger, but it’s not out of the question.

Unlike most of the smart glasses I’ve tested for WIRED, these are super easy to interact with. The controls are simple to remember and calibrated just right. Pressing the button to take a picture feels like second nature. Tapping the glasses to pause or restart audio or to adjust the volume always works. My hair or hat never accidentally start or stop a song.

The camera is nice too, and I love being able to just quickly take a picture of whatever I’m looking at. When I’m not wearing the Metas, I miss them. I have outsourced about 80 percent of my brain to my phone’s camera roll, and when I can’t capture a special moment, I really feel like I’m missing out—like the time I raced to attend my daughter’s end-of-the-year school music performance and was the only parent not recording it. But wearing smart glasses with a camera built in soothes that anxiety. It’s also so much faster and less obvious to record with the Metas than taking out a phone and holding it in the air. This ability to discretely record the world around me has also made my husband nervous. “Shouldn’t you ask them?” he says whenever someone accidentally walks in front of me while I’m surreptitiously taking a snap. (Should I?)

But the real leap forward here is the inclusion of Meta’s voice-activated AI assistant. It’s silly but true: The thing that made AI finally feel useful to me was shrinking it down and installing it on my face.

As we’ve watched the rise of AI gadgets and near-sentient chatbots, I have remained unclear on what, exactly, I’m supposed to be doing with them all. I like using ChatGPT for figuring out what to do with leftovers, but most of the time, I don’t have questions that a quick Google search on my phone can’t answer. That all changed when I started wearing the Metas. Once I slipped on a pair of voice-activated glasses, the world became full of questions, and I wanted answers.

How much did that house across the street cost? The AI couldn’t tell me, but it did tell me that I needed to resurface the walkway in front of my house. I asked it to identify plants and cars, and it did a good job at both. (It might help that my neighborhood mostly has distinctive vehicles of the Subaru Forester and Dodge Challenger variety.)


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It also translated my son’s Spanish books mostly accurately—I speak and read Spanish—and it even felt free to editorialize. “We don’t know why Rafa is getting in the car, only that he will arrive by 3,” the Meta AI fretted, as an anxious aside while translating Que hacen Gabo y Rafa? for me.

I’ve always been a big proponent of the metaverse; I’ve tried all the mixed-reality headsets and I love playing games in VR. But while these Meta Ray-Ban glasses don’t project images or immerse you into virtual worlds the way those bigger headsets do, they bring a sensor-enabled, phone-free internet out into the real world. That makes them the simplest path into the metaverse that I’ve tried yet.

They’re not focused on gaming, so I don’t have to convince anyone that they have value. All kinds of people like them. And they’re affordable! Unlike the Apple Vision Pro, they don’t cost thousands of dollars. There’s no waitlist; you can pick up a pair of these at Sunglass Hut. Unlike all the giant strap-on VR goggles, they’re comfortable, free of battery packs, and not at all awkward outside of the house. Unlike the Humane Ai Pin and the Rabbit R1, they actually work. And you don’t have to remember to carry them around like a gadget; you’re wearing sunglasses anyway.

It already feels a little weird to switch from the Meta sunglasses to my prescription reading glasses when I start working, especially since work is when I have the most dumb questions that I need to answer immediately. (“Hey Meta, who is Trader Joe?”) If there was a product that could lure me out of Apple’s walled garden and into the warm embrace of a company that has a documented history of not always doing the right thing with its customer’s data, my talking sunglasses would be it.

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