If you’ve ever wished that your shades could do just a little bit more, Snapchat has the answer. The beloved social platform is dipping its toes into wearable tech with Snapchat Spectacles.
From Fitbits that count your every step to Google Glass specs designed for productivity on the go, wearable technology is more common than ever. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Snapchat, one of the most popular social apps today, has created its own wearable tech.
If you aren’t familiar with Snapchat, it’s time to get acquainted. Although it’s often dismissed as a social app that primarily appeals to teens, the platform’s powerful growth is impossible to ignore. According to Convince and Convert, Snapchat has more users than Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest.
It’s also gaining in popularity quicker than other social networks. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of Twitter users in the US grew from 15 percent to 21 percent. In just a year’s time from 2015 to 2016, the number of Snapchat users in the US grew from 17 percent to 23 percent.
What Are Snapchat Spectacles?
Snapchat Spectacles are, quite simply, a pair of sunglasses with a tiny camera built in. The company describes the spectacles as a fashionable way to take a day’s worth of snaps with just a single charge. Snapchat says, “Circular video plays full screen on any device, in any orientation, and captures the human perspective with a 115 degree field of view.” This creates an immersive environment for replaying action and precious moments, which is all the rage these days with ever-evolving AR and VR technology.
The Unsteady State of Wearable Tech
Today, the wearable tech landscape is hit or miss. The general public’s reaction has been mixed so far, with most consumers accepting it as the next experimental stage in technological advancement, and some rejecting it harshly at the first sign of failure.
Google Glass famously imploded, as the New York Times reported, with tech reviewers touting it as a bug-ridden mess bogged down by poor battery life. It also spurred concerns of privacy, which led to the banning of Google Glass in places like movie theaters and Vegas casinos amidst fears of stealthy video recording. Although there was initially a lot of hype surrounding the glasses and what they meant for productivity, the specs never made it to market.
How Spectacles Stand Out
Boasting the ability to record and share moments, will Spectacles meet the same fate as Google Glass? When comparing the two it doesn’t seem likely. Spectacles differ from Google Glass in a few key ways, including cost and purpose. The sticker price for the specs is expected to be around $130, whereas Google Glass was only ever released to a limited group of people for $1,500 a pair. In addition, small lights around the camera lens indicate that the wearer is currently filming, which makes it more difficult to film someone without their knowledge.
Snapchat also stresses that the spectacles are more like a toy than a serious piece of tech. To that end, they’ll be available in a three “fun” colors and many consumers will likely treat them as an experimental gadget instead of an investment. If successfully branded as a must-try Snapchat accessory, the future of Spectacles looks bright.
Marketing to Millennials
One major hurdle for Snapchat to hop over is their target demographic. Student reporters at Indiana University’s paper weren’t thrilled with the idea of Spectacles. An editorial published in the paper described the glasses as “…a physical manifestation of Snapchat’s struggle to stay relevant and fresh. “It went on to call the glasses “nerd goggles” and speculated that they would be cumbersome to use.
Meanwhile, Fast Company described the glasses as the way for digital eyewear to “escape the nerd factor.” Once they hit the market, it’ll likely come down to whether or not the shades can live up to their tempting tech features. If the promise of solid battery life and a seamless transfer of snaps from sunglasses to smartphone holds true, Spectacles have a fighting chance.
Smooth Sailing for Snapchat
Snazzy shades aside, what do the cards hold for Snapchat? The LA Times reported that the company is predicted to go public sometime next year with what is expected to be the largest initial public offering in the US since 2014. Even if you’re not keen on unwrapping a pair of Spectacles this Christmas, following Snapchat’s success is a smart move.