(image credit: spectacles.com)
And so begins the latest chapter in the wearable technology saga. Messaging app giant, Snapchat, has branched into the gadget market with the launch of its very first piece of novelty tech, known as ‘Spectacles’ – a pair of sunglasses with a built-in video camera.
Not only this, but they’re also changing their name from Snapchat to Snap, inc. This makes sense, as they’re clearly keen to move away from being known simply for their ephemeral app messaging service and its little white ghost.
Spectacles can record up to 30 seconds of video at a time, and with an impressive 115-degree field of vision too. This human-perspective footage is then wirelessly sent to the app ready to be viewed again and shared with friends.
Evan Spiegel, creator of Snap, describes the technology as something to be worn “for kicks” and the closest thing to being able to re-experience your best memories. It’s just a shame Snap have launched a sunglasses-style product as the gloomy days and long winter nights are about to set in, and sunglasses are the last accessory people will be reaching for.
Inevitably, this new release is going to be reminding a lot of people about the gigantic techie flop that was Google Glass. Though this attempt at creating ‘Smart Glasses’ was picked up by developers all over the world, the tech never came anywhere near hitting consumer retail. When you consider the whopping $1,500 price tag, the security concerns and the fact that the wearer was made to look rather silly, the fate of Google Glass was hardly surprising.
However, Snapchat has not ignored what recent history has taught us. With a much more reasonable $130 (just under £100) price tag and, let’s face it, a much less dorky design, Snap’s Spectacles are already viewed by the industry as much more likely to take off on the consumer market.
Tech analysts have noted the design takes strong influence from they styles of sunglasses worn by millennials, making them much more appealing as an accessory. The choice of a sunglasses design rather than a standard glasses design also helps make the camera itself much less obvious, though a red light does illuminate so other people know when it is recording.
Tech or toy?
There is some disagreement among the tech industry as to whether Spectacles will simply remain a toy and fun fashion accessory, which is what Spiegel describes them as, or whether the introduction of this new wave of wearable tech might pave the way for completely new lines of business in augmented and virtual reality.
This new product, with a battery that lasts an entire day, is also expected to put pressure on the likes of GoPro, whose mini cameras are considerably more expensive than Spectacles will be. With the added freedom from wires, handheld devices and selfie sticks Spectacles provide, perhaps this is a version of wearable tech that will actually go somewhere in the near future.
For now, though, it’s a chance for Snap’s enormous young fan base (and, no doubt, a great many celebrities) to experiment and play with a new piece of novelty tech while looking considerably more stylish than any Google Glass wearer ever could.
Get ready for lots of Spectacles selfies on your social feeds, folks.
Fancy a pair? Check out the website at www.spectacles.com