In late 2016, Snapchat launched its first consumer product with the Spectacles, a pair of glasses that came equipped with a small camera that could record video clips from a first-person perspective and upload them to a Story on the iOS and Android Snapchat app. Although the company ultimately took a $40 million loss on the Spectacles, a new report from live news show Cheddar today claims that Snapchat is doubling down on the product and is working on two new versions of Spectacles.
Specifically, a second generation model is said to be coming as soon as this fall and is “currently being manufactured,” according to people familiar with the company’s plans. This model will be water resistant, have bug fixes, performance improvements, and new color options, but otherwise won’t have any “dramatic changes.”
After that model debuts, Snapchat is planning “a more ambitious version” for 2019 that is described as featuring an all-new design, built-in GPS, two camera lenses, and more advanced camera technology within each lens to fuel “3D-like depth effects in videos.” While the first Spectacles ran for $130, the third generation pair could cost up to $300.
Notably, both versions could also feature augmented reality abilities and potentially compete with the “Apple Glasses,” if that product becomes reality.
Snap intends for future versions of Spectacles to incorporate AR capabilities, like integration with Snapchat’s virtual Bitmoji avatars and animated lenses. Nearly every major tech company, from Apple to Facebook, is working on similar AR eyewear.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has said publicly that selling hardware will be an important part of his business in roughly a decade. People familiar with his thinking said that he sees augmented reality, or the overlaying of virtual objects onto the physical world, as the next paradigm shift in personal computing.
In addition to the news of potential updates to Spectacles, Snapchat is also now rumored to be holding conversations with major glasses companies like Luxottica and Warby Parker. This could lead to Snapchat licensing out its Spectacles-based camera technology to other companies, so that users could buy more traditional looking glasses and still have access to frames that connect to their Snapchat.
Apple is rumored to be entering the smart glasses field, although the company’s product at this point in the rumor cycle is described as focusing mainly on augmented reality and not taking images or recording video. Still, the product is said to be in early experimental stages and could change as Apple tries to determine the “most compelling application.” In January, Apple representatives reportedly met with suppliers who make the type of parts required to power such AR “Apple Glasses,” which could launch by 2020.
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