Sorry, VR: The Meta Ray-Ban Wayfarers Are the Best Face Computer

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.

Quick Shot

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?)

Intelligence Quotient

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.)