Snapchat first debuted in the hardware industry by launching Snap Spectacles, its wearable camera back in November 2016. These spectacles proved to be a costly failure for the company and caused to take nearly $40 million write-down in the third quarter as they made more units than the 220,000 or so that it ultimately sold.
The company decided not to give up and recently showed off a new update to its fabled Snap Spectacles. The next generation spectacles cost $150 — $20 more than the prior version and come in three new jewel tones: onyx (black), ruby (red), and sapphire (blue).
Snap Spectacles V2.0 is has been designed to solve customers biggest complaints about version one, that they were too bulky, that it was too hard to transfer videos from glasses to your phone and that they could not take photos. The V1 was really heavy and the piece where the arm meets the lens was really bulky where all the internals and the camera was located which made the camera very clumsy to use. Now it is much smaller and it just generally feels lighter when you put them on your face.
Also, the newer version is also capable of taking photos in High Definition at 1642 x 1642 (which is around 2.7MP). The picture quality is not really great and you should not expect too much details but it looks okay on the phone screen. You can also capture longer length videos up to 30 seconds in high definition at 1216 x 1216 which in the first version was limited only 10 seconds. There is a button on the side which you need to long press to capture a photo, the videos can be captured by tapping the button once, twice or thrice to capture 10-30 seconds of video respectively.
The Spectacles V2.0 is splash resistant means that it is now safe to take it into the water at shallow depths. You can dive into the pool and splash around in the ocean and these Spectacles will still work. The Spectacles Box which also functions as a charger has also been splash resistant.
Talking about the charging box, this time the box is also small and can recharge the spectacles up to four times before it needs to be charged as well. It also features an indicator on the side which tells the amount of charge left. Despite the small battery in the glasses, the battery life is still the same and you can capture about 70 snaps and transfer them to your phone on a full single charge. It also has built-in storage which can store up to 150 videos or 3,000 photos at a time.
The company has also added a second microphone to the spectacles to improve the improve the audio quality even more as in the previous version there was a problem that you can hear the person wearing the glasses but sometimes not the other person in the shot.
The connectivity has also been improved and the download speeds are now to three to four times faster. However, the rest of the awkward process of transferring data by opening memories then tapping “import” and accepting a dialog box that switches your phone to the Spectacles Wi-Fi network, is still the same. Snapchat should have made it to automatically upload the data on the cloud just like other cameras on the market but I guess that the current technology struggles to support a $150 pair of glasses uploading thousands of megabytes of data to the cloud for free.
Snapchat has also partnered up with a company known as Lensabl to provide prescribed and polarized lenses which you can order at Spectacles.com but this feature is only limited to the United States. The company is also reusing some parts from the unsold inventory of generation one spectacles to cover up the loss. Also, the company blames ‘fragmented sales channels’ for the failure of the earlier model, so this time around is selling them exclusively from the app and from its own website. The previous model was also sold through Amazon.
The usage of such devices is still not clear but they are no doubt really impressive and unique piece of technology which offer an early future for high tech eyewear that so many big tech companies vying for dominance. Who knows that one day in future these specs might become a sophisticated computing platform that can do much more than just capturing videos or photos or can ultimately replace the GoPro cam. As the CEO of Snapchat says, “Over the next decade or so, the way that these pieces fit together will probably be what defines our company”.
Snapchat is already working on a $300 variant of the device that will feature two cameras for creating three dimensional depth effects. The Spectacles V2.0 are now on the shelves in Canada, the United States, France and the United Kingdom. They’ll be available May 3rd in the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Poland, Spain, Italy, and Ireland.