Snap, the company behind Snapchat, is planning to continue its push into hardware devices with a new pair of augmented-reality glasses and a drone, according to a report by The Information. The Spectacles will reportedly include displays so the wearer can see the AR effects without having to use their phone — a feature that was notably missing from the all the Spectacles that came before.
One of The Information’s sources says that the new Spectacles will be meant for developers and creators, rather than consumers — though you could probably argue that, at $380, the Spectacles 3 are already mostly limited to that market as well. As the article points out, though, the intention is likely to have the developers make lenses and experiences that consumers will use at some point in the future.
If the new Spectacles act as an AR headset, it could be the culmination of what the company has been working towards with the first three versions of the product. Currently, the Spectacles are mainly capture devices, acting as head-mounted cameras with the bulk of the processing being done on the user’s phone. This hasn’t necessarily been a recipe for success: the company lost $40 million when it was stuck with unsold inventory of the original pair, and the company’s hardware head left shortly after the second-generation glasses came out.
If the reports about the new Spectacles are true, it could indicate that Snap isn’t backing down from its hardware dreams — the company’s CEO has said that AR hardware will be part of what defines Snap by the end of this decade. If it wants to continue pushing its AR glasses, it seems like it will have to contend with competition from the likes of Apple and Facebook— both companies seem to be developing their own face-mounted wearables.
As for the drone, there’s precious little information about it. There have been rumors about Snap working on a drone for years, and back in 2017 it acquired a drone company. The Information also reports that Snap invested $20 million into a Chinese drone company as well. There’s no information on when the drone will ship, but the report’s sources say that it’s recently been made the priority of Snap Lab, a hardware group at Snap.
In other AR headset news, The Information also reported today that the headset teased by Pokémon Go creator Niantic is actually a reference design made by Qualcomm — the two companies announced that they were partnering back in 2019. Niantic is also reportedly looking to go the developer-first route as well.