It seems like it was ages ago that Google Glass was the future that nobody wanted. The wearable tech had at least one bad design flaw—it seemed to get its early adopters punched in the face because people didn’t like the camera being pointed at them. Now, Snapchat thinks people are finally ready for glasses-mounted personal recording.
Snapchat is betting that it wasn’t so much fear of being assaulted that killed Google Glass, it’s just that people didn’t want to pay £1,000 for the privilege. The millennial-approved social network is jumping into the hardware game with its $130/£101 “Spectacles.” Rather than trying to do everything a smartphone can, the frames will simply focus on looking stylish and recording 10-second bursts of circular video.
The glasses feature a fish-eye lens that captures videos at an 115-degree angle, which is closer to the eyes’ natural field of view. The user taps a button on the hinge, a ring of lights indicate to strangers that they are being filmed and a short clip is recorded. The footage is then automatically pushed to Snapchat memories.
CEO Evan Spiegel recounted to WSJ Magazine the story of his eureka moment with the Spectacles.
“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.”
Ok, we’ll admit that a demonstration of the circular video is kind of cool:
Snapchat just solved the portrait vs landscape video argument forever pic.twitter.com/iOsKeaeXkb
— Owen Williams⚡️ (@ow) September 24, 2016
For now, it seems that the company is taking the step into hardware cautiously and it plans to roll out the glasses to the public slowly and get a feel for how much demand is out there. Speigel also refers to the product as a “toy” to downplay any perception that the company considers this a groundbreaking innovation.
Spiegel is also using the launch of his new toy to announce the corporate renaming of Snapchat to just Snap Inc.
“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.”
You might even say that the Wall Street Crowd will be able to find Snapchat in a Snap.
Here it is, just in time to remind you that summer is over, a sun-drenched promotion for Snapchat Spectacles. [WSJ Magazine]