Rumours be rumours, though reports abound that Snap, the company which owns Snapchat, is working on a refresh of their hardware this year, with a two-camera version coming next year.

Now, Fitbit has proven that fashion tech sells. Position a piece of technology as a fashion accessory, and you’re breaking into a new market of people who want to look good while filling a particular niche. Snap attempted the same with their glasses, though it did not quite reach the same heights as other fashion tech (though some rather enjoyed them ’round the more hipster places in the world like Shoreditch and Austin).

Although their previous performance was lackluster, it makes sense to crack the whip once again for some sweet cash. As they are technically a ‘camera company,’ owning the hardware as well as the software puts them in a position to emulate Apple’s ecosystem, albeit to a much smaller extent. And besides, AR is growing in popularity, with many creative uses. 

That said, a two-camera option would be much more expensive, potentially way above £200; this would position the glasses less like fashion, and more like a tool. While glasses can be expensive, I do not think I need them to have GPS or cameras for most of my everyday activities – being able to actually see is enough for most people. One wanders how successful this may be.

Perhaps most terrifyingly of all, there is a chance they will implement some level of AR, including… bitmojis. Yeah. Imagine walking down the street and suddenly a grotesque bitmoji of your friend appears. Or when driving. In the snow.

Kinks can be ironed out, with great software incoming for mobile,  but severe flaws may not be. Either way, I’m intrigued to see where Snap may go from here, with 360 rising as well.

A part of Chedder’s statement is below – make of it as you will.

Tom Ffiske
Twitter@TomFfiske
Subscribe to the newsletter here.

…/

Snap Inc. plans to launch a second version of its Spectacles glasses this year followed by a more ambitious third version equipped with two cameras in 2019, Cheddar has learned.

The second version of Spectacles is currently being manufactured with the goal of shipping by this fall, according to people familiar with the matter. Aside from being water resistant and available in new colors, the updated camera eyewear will focus on performance improvements and bug fixes rather than dramatic changes, said the people, who requested not to be named discussing confidential information.

Word of a new version of Spectacles comes only months after Snap announced that it had lost $40 million on its much-touted original product, selling only 150,000 pairs and leaving hundreds of thousands of glasses unsold.

But Snap won’t stop with version two of Spectacles. The company has also begun work on a more ambitious, third generation of Spectacles with a new design and two cameras, the people said. Snap has prototyped an aluminum design with more circular lens frames and two cameras that would allow for 3D-like depth effects in videos. Snap has additionally considered including a built-in GPS and a leather case, as well as a potential price tag of around $300, which would be more than double the current $130 cost for Spectacles.

Snap’s planned rollout of future Spectacles has already missed internal deadlines. The Snapchat-maker’s secretive hardware division, known internally as Snap Lab, has suffered multiple setbacks since Spectacles were launched to much fanfare in the fall of 2016. Advanced talks to acquire Chinese drone startup Zero Zero fell through during the summer of 2017. Shortly after, the division was hit with layoffs and a leadership shakeup. The newly-promoted VP of Hardware, Mark Randall, previously led Snap’s operations team, which was responsible for ordering the excess Spectacles inventory that sat unsold in warehouses last year.

A Snap spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Despite the setbacks, Snap has pushed forward with its plan to put cameras into an array of physical products. A few months after Spectacles were announced in September 2016, Snap quietly bought the Boulder, Colorado-based company FiveFocal, people familiar with the matter told Cheddar. The previously unreported acquisition gave Snap roughly a dozen experts in building software that can prototype the designs of advanced camera technology in different form factors. Snap said in its most recent filing with the SEC that it spent $47 million on unnamed acquisitions in 2016.

 

Leave a Reply