Arriving in Indio, CA on a dry, windy 85 degree day last weekend, I was greeted by what was by far the biggest crowd I’ve seen in the past two years. Along with about a hundred thousand other people, I was attending the first weekend of Coachella, the first iteration of the famous music and arts festival since 2019.
Walking up the path to the main field with the other participants, I immediately felt like I was witnessing a void being filled. Needless to say, we’ve all been missing a necessary level of human interaction since the pandemic began in 2020, in addition to a certain amount of fun that’s been left on the table due to the prioritization of safety in relation to entertainment. The anticipation was palpable as I walked down the yellow path, watching the people with their friends in their festival outfits, my eyes widening with each step I took.
Although a lot has changed since the last edition of Coachella, one thing remains true: what you bring (or don’t bring) to the court can make or break your day. Sun and dust protection are an obvious must, in addition to your phone and any other cameras you plan to use to document the day (or your social media tweaks if you’re one of a lot influencers present). Luckily, I was able to cover my bases with just one article.
Last year, Ray-Ban entered the smart glasses market by collaborating with Facebook (now Meta) to create Ray-Ban Stories, a range of glasses that use Bluetooth technology to connect to your phone. They combine audio and visual features that make your everyday life easier, whether you’re commuting to work or attending one of the world’s most prestigious music events. I was given a pair to test for the festival, and was eager to see if they would have a noticeable effect on my experience.
The first thing that struck me the most was how much I was able to be more present during the festival. In 2022, many of us are used to meticulously documenting our lives to share on social media – from trips to meals to a full live set of our favorite band. Wearing the glasses, I was able to easily take photos and record videos with just the click of a button on the frames arm – rather than worrying about pulling my phone out of my pocket at the right time or missing prep of a song while trying to record. The high quality cameras also meant that I didn’t have to stand perfectly still in a crowd of people, blocking everyone’s view while trying to get the perfect shot.
With the touchpad, voice commands and built-in speakers, I was easily alerted to all incoming calls and was able to take them with one touch, controlling the volume with the swipe of my finger. Also, the speakers were of such high quality that I had no problem hearing my phone in a large crowd of people.
But at the end of the day, perhaps the most important feature of all is that the glasses don’t look cheesy. Until now, companies making smart glasses have focused almost exclusively on technology and functionality without worrying about style and aesthetic design. This has led to a market for advanced eyewear that can To do lots of cool stuff, but you pray no one sees you wearing it. Ray-Ban kept it simple, adding futuristic features to classic silhouettes like the Wayfarer and round-frame sunglasses, and created a pair of smart glasses you won’t be embarrassed to wear. The latest model has even improved on the original version, integrating the touchpad better and making the frame a little less bulky, resulting in a sleek design that you’ll feel comfortable wearing even when you’re not using the built-in features. .
As I walked back to the rideshare pickup that night — still wearing my goggles in the dark to shield my eyes from the infamous desert dust storms — I couldn’t help but be grateful that we may we get together like this again. I hadn’t fully realized until now how much I needed to be back in that kind of environment, to connect with a sea of strangers around a shared experience.