Snapchat's first hardware product is coming to the market sooner than anyone expected. The company said tonight that it will sell Spectacles, a set of connected sunglasses that record 10-second snippets of video, for $130 sometime this fall. It also rebranded itself as Snap, Inc. — a reflection of a fact that the company now makes more than its flagship app, co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel told the Wall Street Journal.
Spectacles have a single button that you press to begin recording your snap, according to the Journal. The cameras employ a 115-degree lens, which the company says more closely approximates a person's field of vision. And the cameras record circular video, according to Journal — and effort to create a playback experience that simulates your natural point of view. 'When I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes — it was unbelievable," Spiegel told the Journal, recalling a hike he took wearing the prototype. "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."
"I could see my own memory, through my own eyes"
Snap says it will roll the product out in slow numbers, and characterized it as a "toy" — although Snapchat itself was often described that way in its early years, and was often dismissed as as a novelty along the way to 150 million daily users and a valuation in the tens of billions. It opens up a potentially lucrative new line of business for a company at a time when Facebook and its subsidiaries have been looting its flagship app for parts. Lately it has been calling itself "a camera company" rather than a social network — a canny move given how Facebook dominates online communication.
Spectacles will naturally be compared to Google Glass, Alphabet's mostly fruitless foray into wearable face-based computing. But because they are sunglasses, they will be less conspicuous than Google's. They're cheaper, too — not even one-tenth of the price as Glass, which debuted at $1,500. But just as Google did, Snap is marketing Spectacles with a high-fashion gloss. The product debuted in the glossy WSJ Magazine, and Spiegel was photographed wearing Spectacles by fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld.
Footage of Spectacles was first spotted earlier today by Business Insider.
Update, 3:42 a.m.: This article has been updated to include a photo and video of Spectacles along with a link to the company blog post.