Snapchat gets a re-brand with launch of Spectacles camera-sunglasses
Spectacles are similar to Google's Glass, in that both have a camera, but Snap's offering can do just two things: take short videos and keep the sun out of your eyes. (Twitter)
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Snapchat announced it is changing its name to Snap, Inc., Friday, to reflect business plans beyond its core app, and immediately announced its first hardware product: Spectacles.
The move shows Snap has moved past its social media app Snapchat -- users upload short video clips that disappear after a period of time -- and is looking for new ways of helping people connect.
Spectacles are a pair of sunglasses with cameras on either side that can record up to 30 seconds of video and, when connected to a smartphone via wi-fi, upload it to the social network.
The idea, the company says, is to expand how users interact with Snapchat. In the case of Spectacles, the company developed a new camera to allow for more immersive video -- certainly an expansion beyond smartphone apps.
"When we were just getting started it made sense to name our company Snapchat Inc., because Snapchat was our only product," Evan Spiegel, chief executive officer of Snap, wrote in a blog post. "Now that we are developing other products, like Spectacles, we need a name that goes beyond just one product -- but doesn't lose the familiarity and fun of our team and brand."
Spectacles are similar to Google's Glass, in that both have a camera, but Snap's offering can do just two things: take short videos and keep the sun out of your eyes.
When users press a button, Spectacles will take up to 10 seconds of video at a time, transferring it to the Snapchat app on a smartphone using wi-fi or Bluetooth. Video taken with the glasses is in a new format developed by Snap called Circular. The formats video plays full screen on any devices with a 115 degree field of view that some reviewers have compared to video from a GoPro camera.
Taking video without having to hold a camera or phone is what allows Spectacles to offer first-person-like video. Spiegel said watching video he took with a prototype in 2015 during a vacation made him feel like he was there, rather than just watching a recording.
"It was our first vacation, and we went to Big Sur for a day or two. We were walking through the woods, stepping over logs, looking up at the beautiful trees. And 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 Wall Street Journal. "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."
A limited number of Spectacles are expected to be available later this year and will cost $129.99 per pair.
By Stephen Feller