In just a few short years, Google Glass became a legendary gaffe. The wearable computer made real-life head-mounted displays a reality, but its ability to discreetly take video rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Because of privacy concerns and people not wanting to wear a computer on their face, Google Glass was taken out of the consumer world and back into the lab, where Google is now working on making it more useful for businesses and medical professionals. The public, finally, was safe from video-recording glasses — until now. Snapchat came in last week with Spectacles and a brand new company name.
It’s pretty clear from the start that Snapchat learned a few lessons from Google Glass. First off, Spectacles aren’t a face computer, and they don’t look like one. They’re a pair of trendy-looking (opinions are going to differ) sunglasses with a couple of 115-degree lenses at the top corners. With a tap to the side of the glasses, video starts recording. Uh-oh! You can bet the usual brows are furrowing at that prospect, but Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel is trying to head them off. According to a Business Insider report, he wants Spectacles to be seen as a toy — and they sort of are. They can only take 10-second videos, which can either be sent as Snaps or Stories. They can also be saved to Memories in the app, which helps explains why Snapchat introduced their first save feature not too long ago.
Spectacles are meant to save memories as you see them in the moment. In the official announcement made in The Wall Street Journal, Spiegel said, “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.” All of a sudden, Snapchat’s not so much about forgetting anymore!
Spectacles will connect to a smartphone using a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection, and will light up while recording video — perhaps more than anything to let others know that they’re being recorded. They’ll come in black, teal, and coral, and will sell for $130 later this fall. But, it sounds like they’ll only get a limited release, with Snapchat likely wanting to see if they’ve got a hit or another Glass on their hands before going all-in.
But, it’s time to stop calling them Snapchat. As part of the announcement, the company revealed it would now be known as Snap, Inc. Because they’ve now got multiple products, the name change made sense and implies that more Snap products are in development. As for the present ones, well, they might not be any less creepy than Google Glass, but at least they look cooler!