One of the biggest complaints with VR headsets is the appearance. The space age design is a big turn off for many, and it's a fair complaint – you certainly wouldn't go unnoticed wearing one to the shops, for example.
We have seen attempts to change that. The Apple Vision Pro launched earlier this year, utilising a pass through which showed the users eyes on the front of the device. Whether that's more or less of a dystopian fever dream is up for debate, but they're certainly trying.
Then you have the Ray-Ban Stories. Granted, this is no VR headset. The features on this device are much more refined than you'd find on something like a Meta Quest Pro, for example. There's no gaming or web surfing. Instead, you get a camera for snapping images and videos, and audio playback for music and calls.
What it does nail is the look. There are two cameras mounted on the sides of the lenses, but you'd be forgiven for missing them at first glance. Instead, you just see a timeless, stylish pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses – much more socially acceptable than other forms of face-mounted technology.
And they've been a total flop.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Meta had shifted around 300,000 units up to February this year, but only around 10% of those were actively used. Users pointed to issues with connectivity and battery life among the top reasons why they'd stopped using their devices.
That hasn't stopped Meta from pursuing them, though. According to Engadget, an updated version of the Stories is expected next Spring. And I'm really excited by that prospect.
Ray-Ban Stories isn't a bad product. In fact, the concept is very good – you can capture media from a first-person perspective, without having to be buried in a phone. It's a dream for content creators.
Plus, the built-in audio is perfect for listening to music on the go. If you're in a busy area – wandering through a city, for example – you don't want to be completely unaware of your surroundings. With these, you can listen to your favourite album, while still being alert.
If Meta can refine the design to improve on some of those issues, I think this could be a really strong offering. Down? Certainly. But definitely not out.