Let’s face it—we live in a world where social media dominates. Practically everybody in the world is recording history as it happens in one way or another through social networking services. We can’t seem to escape it.
Another way social media is changing our world comes via the advent of wearable technology. And later this fall, Snapchat plans to bring those two worlds together in a big way with the launch of Spectacles, sunglasses equipped with tiny video cameras that can post ten-second videos to Snapchat at the behest of the wearer.
The Spectacles website shows a multiculti coterie of shirtless models wearing the glasses, which will be available in black, coral, and teal. The glasses themselves aren’t much to look at—in fact, they’re kind of ugly—but it’s the technology these glasses boast that really sets them apart.
Users tap a button on the sunglasses, which toggles the camera on to record ten seconds of video. The camera lights up, presumably to let the world around the user know that they’re being filmed. After the video finishes, the user can upload it wirelessly to Snapchat to share with the world. The Spectacles come with a case that doubles as a charger.
Spectacles are a shrewd entry into a market where social media companies are scrambling to keep consumers tied to their networks. The glasses will sell at a price point of $130, which isn’t too far out of reach for many tech-savvy millennials. Snap, Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, plans to offer the glasses “soon,” according to the website, which translates to “this fall,” according to an interview with CEO Evan Spiegel in the Wall Street Journal.
Snap is positively giddy about this upcoming new product and how users can document their lives in a whole new way:
Imagine one of your favorite memories. What if you could go back and see that memory the way you experienced it? That’s why we built Spectacles.
Spectacles are sunglasses with an integrated video camera that makes it easy to create Memories.
We’ve created one of the smallest wireless video cameras in the world, capable of taking a day’s worth of Snaps on a single charge, and we integrated it seamlessly into a fun pair of sunglasses – available in 3 different colors!
An accompanying YouTube clip shows millennials in ironic retro tube socks cavorting on skateboards and gleefully sharing their day with the world via the homely sunglass cameras.
According to CNET, the launch of Spectacles is the culmination of over two years of research and development on the part of Snap:
In 2014, Snapchat bought Vergence Labs, a startup that makes Google Glass-like eyewear that records video of what the wearer sees. In 2015, Snapchat began building Snapchat Research, a team composed of scientists and software engineers specializing in computer vision and machine learning.
In March, CNET’s Sean Hollister reported that Snapchat was recruiting hardware experts for a stealthy new project. The social-media firm has never produced physical gear, unless you count merchandise like beach towels and backpacks. It does, however, already count nearly a dozen wearable-technology vets among its ranks.
Will a certain segment of the population eat this new invention up? You bet. CNET also reports that 41 percent of the coveted 18-34 year old demographic is already on Snapchat, so right there is a built-in market. However, many users may balk at the ugly design or find the $130 price point a bit too much for their tastes.
Then again, Spectacles could go the way of Google Glass. For those of you who don’t remember, here’s a refresher: beginning in 2013, Google oversold its new invention so absurdly that anything short of world domination would look like a failure. Instead, Google Glass came crashing down to earth so spectacularly that it looked like the Ford Edsel of social technology.
Spectacles probably won’t fail quite so miserably, but given the fickle nature of technology and social media, the product stands to become either a brilliant innovation or a flash in the pan—and probably nowhere in between.