Earlier this year Snap Inc, the makers of Snapchat, announced they had created video-recording glasses called Snapchat Spectacles. We followed this announcement with keen curiosity, as such a device for social media platforms is, so far, one of a kind.
This week the news broke that these elusive spectacles had been released – not to a high-bidding waiting list of purchasers but in a classic yellow vending machine near to the company’s HQ in Venice, California. Who’d have thought?
These “pop-up” yellow vending machines (nicknamed snapbots – of course) are set to tour the USA, remaining in each place for just one day, and allowing keen Snapchatters to purchase the spectacles for $130. But what do these mystery specs look like? And even more importantly, what do they do?
When met with an awe-inspiring view, have you ever wished you could take a photo instantly using just your eyes? Well, Snapchat spectacles work in a similar way. They offer a “human-eye” view for your followers, allowing you to record directly from the glasses onto your phone. The camera on the spectacles has an 115 degree view, and LED lights which light up the lenses so others know they’re being recorded. But when we strip back the technology and the flashy marketing campaign, what do these glasses bring to the market that really is new and innovative?
The device could be compared to Google Glass. However instead of trying to replicate the intelligence of a computer into a pair of glasses, Snapchat has focused on what they do well – recording videos.
Snapchat spectacles have removed the messy, awkward fumbling that comes with having to get your phone out to record a video spontaneously. Similarly tech reviewers have commented on the ease of use which allows the user to enjoy a much more physical presence. Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch said “Having your hands free to manipulate or hold or touch or help while you’re taking a snap is so great. It also greatly increases the sense of ‘place’ that you get out of it.”
They introduce a new concept of “first person marketing” – indeed, this tool will be invaluable for businesses who want to showcase their skills from a first person perspective.
Chefs, sportsmen, artists and more can take their followers through an immersive journey as they create a dish from scratch, ski down a mountain or paint the next Mona Lisa. But there is one crucial element where we feel Snapchat has missed a trick.
We’re not all video lovers – even the best of us have probably cringed at our “real” voices in recordings. Many current Snapchat users use the app purely to post photos. So why have the makers not accounted for this? Similarly, the glasses do little for the fans of selfies, or for those who use the front facing camera to record vlogs.
We have no doubt that Snapchat’s new concept will pave the way for brands to create more innovative, first person social media products. However at the minute, Snapchat spectacles are little more than a GoPro for your eyes – in fact, without the steady-handed element of phone recordings the videos can often be bad quality and blurry as commented by reviewer Jefferson Graham of USA Today. Similarly, Mashable have noted the lack of battery-life and inconsistent Bluetooth connection as a primary downside to the device.
All in all, Snapchat Spectacles are a good entry-level device for the market, and a ideal gift or purchase for any 20 something with a bit of disposable income – but only until the initial appeal wears off. We believe more needs to be done to really push the boundaries of this exciting new technology.
Have your say – view what Snapchat spectacle videos look like here.