Although they are not fully functional augmented reality glasses in the traditional sense, Facebook is ready to make its first venture into wearables, with the first version of its smart glasses, developed in collaboration with Ray Ban, scheduled to be launched later this week.

Facebook Ray Ban promo

This image was posted on the Ray Ban website this week, coinciding with some examples of the new smart glasses in action, shared by Facebook’s head of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth.

The functionality displayed looks very much like Snap’s Spectacles product, with the glasses able to capture your real world view, which you can then share, presumably to Facebook and Instagram direct.

And it will be particularly fascinating to watch how, precisely, Ray Ban incorporates the camera components into a stylish, trendy design in the coming months. But, given that Snap’s Spectacles were launched five years ago, individuals have had the ability to record video using sunglasses since that time.

Why would people be interested in a Facebook-specific version of the same thing, you may wonder.

Naturally, the long-term goal is for Facebook’s smart glasses to become completely AR compatible, with a heads-up display that overlays digital objects on your current world view.

That’s exactly what Facebook hinted at with its ‘Project Aria’ tests in September of last year, as shown by this video demonstrating the possibilities of augmented reality glasses in a variety of settings.

The announcement seemed to suggest that Facebook was close to that next stage – but then, in January this year, Bosworth sought to temper expectations by noting that the initial version of its glasses would not be AR equipped.

As Bosworth told Bloomberg:

“These are unquestionably linked glasses, and they are unquestionably capable of delivering a significant amount of functionality, [but] we are being mum on exactly what functionality we are offering. We’re really enthusiastic about it, but we don’t want to oversell it too much. In fact, we aren’t even calling it augmented reality; we are simply referring to it as “smart glasses.”

Given the early excitement around the idea, this may have seemed to be a disappointment; nevertheless, Facebook is likely to need product lines and manufacturing as well as demand measurements for its smart gadget as part of its ongoing development. The ideal scenario would still include AR capabilities or support it in the future – but, for now, this may be the only viable option for the project, and the only way to move ahead into the next stage of the development process.

But, as previously said, why should customers worry when they can already purchase Snap’s Spectacles, which provide the exact same functionality?

Accordingly, Facebook will want to use its massive reach to increase the uptake of its smart glasses, with the direct link to Facebook and Instagram – as opposed to Snapchat – serving as the enticing feature that encourages consumers to purchase the new gadget.

The privacy backlash is already starting to build, with a new conspiracy theory emerging about how Facebook is tracking what you’re looking at through the glasses and serving you ads for things that you’ve seen, or how Facebook is secretly recording video without people’s knowledge and storing it for nefarious purposes, among other things.

Even if none of these theories prove to be correct, there is no doubt that Facebook’s public relations team will need to be prepared for the worst. The launch is expected to raise a new set of issues for the company’s public relations team, and it will also spark a new side story about Zuck and Co.’s global takeover plans and how using such devices will rob you of your freedom.

Perhaps this is why Facebook is eager to get the first iteration out there, so that it can begin to counter public perception now, and so that by the time it actually has fully-functional AR glasses ready to ship, it will already have solid processes in place, and the initial concerns about such will have died down, paving the way for optimal take-up of the technology.

The reasoning behind it or not, it seems as if we will be seeing the first version of Facebook’s smart glasses sometime this week, which will undoubtedly represent an important step forward in the evolution of digital connectivity.

You can sign-up to get a release notification about the Facebook/Ray Ban glasses here.