Snapchat is branching out beyond the app world with its first-ever hardware product, Spectacles.
Spectacles are tech-enhanced sunglasses that record 10-second video clips (just like in Snapchat) by pushing a button by the hinge, these then upload directly to your Memories via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
The integrated lens housed in each corner of the frames features a 115-degree field of view to better replicate your first-person vantage point. It records circular video footage, which is more like natural human vision than the standard rectangular format. Plus, it can be played full-screen in any orientation, eliminating the awkward portrait vs. landscape issue.
As far as battery power goes, Spectacles come in a Snapchat-yellow case that both protects and charges the glasses. A single charge should last for a full day.
Of course, we can't hear about a smart glasses gadget and not think about the failed Google Glass. Will Spectacles just be another wearable no one actually wants to wear? Will they be cool and convenient, or dorky, distracting and confusing?
Well, for starters, they're definitely less obviously tech-y in appearance than Google Glass—they look like many sunglasses you might already own, except for the small round cameras at each hinge—but it's Spiegel's no-fuss approach that might be real key to Spectacles' success.
When speaking to WSJ, Spiegel referred to the glasses as "a toy, to be worn for kicks at a barbecue or an outdoor concert." The design is simplistic and user-friendly, much like the app itself—no built-in displays or unnecessary complicated features. They are intended to be fun, to free up your hands, and to capture videos that look and feel more true to life as you experienced it. Spiegel recalled an early experience using Spectacles while hiking with his fiancée, Miranda Kerr:
It was our first vacation, and we went to Big Sur for a day or two. We were walking through the woods, stepping over logs, looking up at the beautiful trees. And when I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes—it was unbelievable. It's one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it's another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I'd ever come to feeling like I was there again.
"We're going to take a slow approach to rolling them out," Spiegel added. "It's about us figuring out if it fits into people's lives and seeing how they like it."
Spectacles will sell for $129.99 and come in three colors: aqua blue, bright red, and black. There is no official release date yet, but they are expected to be available soon.
Coinciding with the launch of Spectacles, Snapchat has rebranded itself as Snap Inc. to reflect the newly expanded scope of the company. "Changing our name also has another benefit," Spiegel notes in the blog post announcing the change. "When you search for our products it will be easier to find relevant product information rather than boring company information or financial analysis. You can search Snapchat or Spectacles for the fun stuff and leave Snap Inc. for the Wall Street crowd :)"
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