2018 was a tough year for Snap, the company behind the Snapchat app and the Spectacles portable camera camera device. From executive executions to reports of slower user growth, the company that once spurned billions of dollars of Facebook advances stands a moment of truth as it faces its uncertain future.
At least part of this future, says founder and CEO Evan Spiegel, is committed to augmented reality. When rumors surfaced that Snap would be releasing an AR version of his Spectacles at the end of 2018, there was some hope that the company could end the year with a forward-looking note instead of continuing to struggle through uncertainty.
Do not miss: The 5 Most Innovative Augmented Reality Products of 201
Well, this release never happened. This gives us the perfect opportunity to find out what exactly the latest version of Spectacles offers and what it can mean for a future where Snap is one of the few AR Smart glasses on the market aimed at mainstream users.
I have a pair of the latest version of Spectacles, the Nico model. The device looks like a chic, fashionable pair of super-powered Ray-Bans without the yellow circles highlighting the side-mounted camera and indicator light, and without the now recognizable Elton John hitting the Lady Gaga circle. In short, the Nico version of Spectacles (released with the Veronica model) is usually indistinguishable from regular sunglasses unless you look closely.
Escape the Glasshole
Because the current version of Spectacles does not do this Because I can view AR content at all levels, I was particularly interested in how the public would respond to a person who "does not wearing very smart glasses and can take them at any time. The reason why this is important before we even come to ubiquitous, truly intelligent AR glasses is illustrated by the saga of Google Glass .
Aside from Borg Star Trek who gave the nickname "Glass Holes" to those who spent $ 1,500 on wearing the device in public, it quickly became clear that people did not like the feeling that they were seen and recorded with the "scary" device.
I've always been a bit confused by this special thread of the Google Glass story. Of course, when Glass was first in the sun in 2013, smartphones with cameras had become the norm in the process, but there were still a large number of people accustomed to being photographed become a stranger's smartphone in public. So, what about glass that was supposed to be so scary? I think it was because it just looked too technical. To geeky, if you will.
When I imagine a sci-fi spy movie where a supervillain has tied me to a medical table in his hiding place and says he'll extract my memories by shining a laser into my eyeball. I would not be shocked if he leaned over my fighting body and looked down on something that looked very similar to Google Glass. The aesthetic aesthetics of the device make you feel like being under a microscope, even if you are standing in a public place only 3 meters away.
When you wear the Nico version of Spectacles in public, you do not feel like you're helping Snap to experiment with its business model. No, these are really cool shades.
This is the hurdle that glasses need in order to be clear in order to be accepted. However, unlike Glass, the initial purpose of Spectacles was much simpler: Allow users to capture short videos on a portable device and then share them on Snapchat.
When Spectacles were released for the first time in 2016 (back when Snapchat was a first) a bit more popular, literally masses were formed to buy the device as soon as the company opened a new Spectacles kiosk (or Snapbot) site announced. I'll never forget driving home from home in Manhattan before Christmas when I snaked a row around a midtown block as countless Snapchat fans line up at 30 ° C in the dark, around the $ 130 Device to get in the hands. 19659002] Unfortunately, the initial hype and excitement were not translated into actual sales – which explains why I did not see many pairs of the original Spectacles on the streets of New York, LA or San Francisco. According to the company, only about 220,000 were sold, which the company had to write off almost $ 40 million due to unsold stocks.
Snap made another attempt in 2018 with the release of a newer version. Glasses 2, which retained the same shape, had a thinner body, but did not use the yellow ring around the camera. For $ 150 and water resistance, faster video transfers, and the ability to take photos and videos, the device (called the 1945B-CNBC "stupid") on the roads is not exactly a common sight.