Not to be defined solely by funny dog-face filters, the folks behind Snapchat have officially entered the wearable tech arena. Snap Inc. (Snapchat's newly rebranded parent company), just debuted its Spectacles: a $130 pair of sunglasses that can record circular Snapchat videos from a first-person perspective.
When looking at Snapchat Spectacles, it's impossible not to think about Google Glass, the long-hyped, extremely-expensive smart glasses that ended up being a complete flop. But despite some small similarities, Spectacles won't suffer Glass' disastrous fate. Here's why.
For starters, the $130 Spectacles are very affordable for a pair of high-tech glasses. Google Glass debuted for a whopping $1,500 for a limited group of early adopters, and while it offered a lot of high-tech functionality for the price, it was pretty much unattainable for the casual tech consumer.
Spectacles, on the other hand, are dripping with accessibility, and it's not just because of the price. These Snapchat glasses have one purpose: to record 10-second, 115-degree videos with a single tap. You can transfer your clips to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and instantly save them to your Snapchat Memories feed.
"Spectacles are in a completely different product and pricing category as Glass," said Avi Greengart, research director at Current Analysis. "They're simple, relatively inexpensive, and designed mostly for fun."
Unlike the miniature computer that was Google Glass, Spectacles won't carry a learning curve — just tap and go. And while Google Glass raised some privacy concerns over its ability to discreetly record video, the Spectacles will light up on the outside anytime the camera is rolling.
There's also the design. The arrival of Google Glass led to the endearing term "Glasshole," as they had a tendency to make you look like some sort of Silicon Valley cyborg. Spectacles also have an eye-catchingly silly appearance, but in a more self-aware sense.
"[The glasses] look ridiculous, which could doom them or actually be a point in their favor for the target demographic," said Greengart.
The glasses come in black, teal and coral, and basically look like a pair of cheap sunglasses with big yellow cameras attached to them. Everything about Spectacles screams "these are Snapchat glasses," which could end up resonating with the app's legions of fans.
That brings me to my last point: Spectacles will likely succeed simply because they are a Snapchat product. According to Snapchat, the app has over 100 million users, and I wager that a good portion of those people will have no problem shelling out $130 for a fun pair of glasses that gives them a new way to create Snaps.
It's also a practical little gadget — having a hands-free way to capture mini-videos means you can spend less time fumbling with your phone and more time playing with your child, riding your skateboard or just enjoying a nice sunset without any distractions. We'll have to get our hands on Spectacles to see how well they truly hold up (the glasses are launching "soon"), but the future already looks bright for these smart sunglasses.