Snapchat is getting its first hardware product — and a new name. The maker of the popular messaging and photo-sharing app is coming out with a pair of glasses featuring a built-in camera that can capture snippets of video to share with others.
The glasses, called Spectacles, were first spotted Firday (Sept. 23) by Business Insider in a leaked promotional video. More details about Spectacles followed later in the evening from a Wall Street Journal report on the plans of the newly renamed Snap, Inc. (The new name is supposed to reflect that the company is more than just Snapchat.)
According to the Wall Street Journal, Spectacles are a regular pair of $129 sunglasses available in black, teal and coral. There's a camera attached to one of the lenses along with a button that you tap to record a video. You record new clips every time you tap the button, and video syncs wirelessly over either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to your smartphone for easy sharing, Snap says.
The video on Business Insider provides a little more detail on how the recording will work, with a circle of lights around the camera to flash to let people know they're being recorded. And Snapchat has since published a promotional video of its own that reveals more about the new glasses.
The footage captured by Spectacle will be different than what you're used to from smartphone cameras, based on the Wall Street Journal's report. For one thing, the Spectacle camera has a 115-degree lens. It also shoots circular video instead of the square footage we're accustomed to seeing — Snap's Evan Spiegel tells the Journal the circular look will feel more like human vision.
While you record 10-second bursts of video with one tap, reports about Spectacles suggest you'll be able to extend the length of a video clip by up to 30 seconds by tapping the button on your glasses. If you don't have a phone handy, video is stored on the glasses until you can sync it.
There are two potentially appealing things about placing a video camera on glasses. For one, as Spiegel points out to the Journal, it gives the people watching the video clips the same perspective you had as you captured the footage, creating a potentially shared experience. For another, it frees up your hands. And as someone who's spent a lot of time at children's birthday parties, dance recitals and family get-togethers gripping a smartphone to capture videos, I certainly appreciate to go hands-free while filming memories.
Snap says that Spectacles will be available "soon," with the Wall Street Journal reporting the glasses are slated for a fall release.
Editors' Note: This article was originally published Sept. 23, but updated with additional information on Spectacles on Sept. 26 at 12:04 p.m. ET.