Snapchat expands into hardware with Spectacles

The newly renamed Snap Inc. is planning to release a pair of sunglasses that can record videos with a 115-degree lens.

October 10, 2016

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The newly renamed Snap Inc. is planning to release a pair of sunglasses that can record videos with a 115-degree lens.

The camera on Snap Inc.’s Spectacles records video with a 115-degree lens in 10-second increments.
(Source: Snap Inc.)

While Google Glass struggled to take off, many have not given up the dream of smart glasses. Oakley introduced recently a pair of Bluetooth glasses, and now Snapchat is unveiling its own, reminding people of Google's failed effort. Spectacles is actually a product of Snap Inc., Snapchat's rebranded company. The glasses were unveiled in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Perhaps the main reason people are comparing Spectacles to Google Glass is the fact that Snap's sunglasses have a camera embedded on the upper-left side. The potential for Google Glass to surreptitiously record video caused concern among some privacy advocates. Although the $1,500 glasses were prohibitively expensive for most people because they never expanded beyond developer editions, some public places made a point of banning the hardware. Spectacles are much cheaper, though. It will sell for $130 and allow people to record video in 10-second increments. For this reason, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel is calling the product a toy, although it has the potential to reach a large number of people.

Spectacles is different from other smart camera glasses sparking interest among consumers. The camera uses a 115-degree lens, which is supposed to mimic the average person's field of view. Users can record 10 seconds with a single tap and add another 10 at a time. The glasses will only record up to 30 seconds per clip, though, and upload the files to Snapchat by communicating with a smartphone via Bluetooth. If there is no smartphone connection, the glasses can save the clips until connection resumes.

In some ways, sunglasses lend themselves to being useful wearables. However, they have some limitations. Snap has admitted Spectacles is not meant to be used at night, at which point it would be too dark to see through the tinted lenses. Google wanted to focus on a product that was useful at all times, but there is a reason Spiegel emphasized that Spectacles is just a toy for now. Many people are still interested in the product, however, regardless of whether it is a toy or a tool. Even mild excitement might be enough to get many peopleto pay $130 for camera glasses.



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