The company formerly known as Snapchat is introducing Spectacles, a brand new pair of sunglasses with a built-in camera for capturing those snaps. Because holding up a smartphone to take video was just too much cardio for your arm.
And along with the fancy new hardware, the company itself is getting a makeover under the new name Snap Inc. While Snapchat was just a social media app, Snap Inc. wants to be a camera company. And Spectacles is the first product to come as a result of the shift.
“We rebranded to Snap Inc. because we are bigger than just Snapchat,” said chief strategy officer Imran Khan on the stage at Ad Week New York. “We believe reinventing the camera is our greatest opportunity to improve how people live and communicate.”
Named Spectacles, the sunglasses will retail for $130 and launch sometime this fall. It has a 115 degree wide-angle lens that takes circular videos and photos which sync to the app on your phone. The circular view finally liberates the user from the vertical format and lets them create horizontal videos as well. For privacy advocates out there, the glasses come with lights that turn on during recording so people know when they’re being filmed.
With sunglasses designed to look retro, funky and pretty much perfect for today’s Millennial hipster, there’s no hiding the company’s ambitions to target young consumers with a light-hearted accessory. CEO Evan Spiegel himself described them as a “toy” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
This is where the product diverges sharply from most other wearables on the market today and how it will avoid following in the footsteps of the ill-fated Google Glass from years prior. Rather than try to be the answer to all your technology needs, Spectacles only has one job: record Snapchat videos and photos and send them to your phone.
Trying too hard to look cutting-edge, headwear like the Oculus Rift, Bluetooth headsets, and Glass have all been criticized for making their wearers give off the wrong kind of fashion statement. On the other hand, Spectacles is designed to blend in with the rest of your wardrobe so long as you don’t dress like a character from the Jetsons. The positioning should help the company steer clear of some of the sales-sucking ridicule the other wearables have run into.
Snap Inc.’s shift toward focusing on cameras puts it in direct competition against fellow camera-maker GoPro. The action camera manufacturer is in the midst of trying to establish itself as an “end-to-end storytelling solution” with the recent launch of its very first drone. So maybe we have a showdown coming just beyond the horizon. It could turn into a battle between hipster Millennial and sporty frat bro for your spending dollars. And the camera market just turned into an extension of the popularity contest you thought you left behind back at school.