Snapchat’s new glasses aim to bring first-person video to social media

Can Snapchat make tech-enabled glasses cool? It’s going to try.

Last week, it was revealed that the company behind the ascendant social app particularly popular with teenagers and young adults will soon be releasing Spectacles, a “totally new type of camera” that takes 10 second video clips that can be saved and then uploaded to Snapchat.

As the name suggests, Spectacles, or Specs for short, are a pair of glasses that have an integrated camera. With a 115 degree field of view, they are designed to “[capture] the human perspective.” In a blog post, Snapchat explained its vision for its first hardware product:

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, as one might expect, they don’t look anything like tech-enabled glasses that have been introduced before, such as Google Glass. Instead, Spectacles have clearly been designed to appeal to the young users that make up the largest and most active segment of the Snapchat user population.

Snapchat will reportedly sell Spectacles for $129 in limited quantities starting later this year. The company says that the video camera it developed for Spectacles is “one of the smallest wireless video cameras in the world” and is capable of taking one day of Snaps on a single charge. The Spectacles case doubles as the device’s charging station.

Perhaps most interestingly, Snapchat developed its own “circular” video format for Spectacles which “plays full screen on any device, in any orientation” and looks quite different than the video its users are likely accustomed to.

A preview of Snapchat’s future?

Snapchat, which also announced that it is changing its name to Snap, Inc., is one of the most closely watched tech companies in the world. Still privately held, reports suggest that it has been valued by investors at upwards of $20 billion in its most recent financing round.

While the company has been working on Spectacles for more than a year, many were surprised to see it launch a hardware product. As Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein noted, the company’s founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel, is taking an unusual path:

Were it not for how unorthodox the product roadmap the 26-year-old Spiegel has devised to date has been, what he is attempting with Spectacles would seem foolhardy: a company with zero hardware experience boasting a newfangled style of “circular” video is introducing a product into a category scorched by failure and controversy. Oh, and also Snapchat is rebranding as Snap at the same time.

This makes the launch of Spectacles quite the spectacle, and the outcome could reveal a lot about Snapchat’s future and prospects for continued success.

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