Spreading through the media like wildfire, news of Snapchat’s latest invention, “Spectacles”, has sparked an incredible amount of interest. “Spectacles” are pair of glasses that can record 10 seconds of video on its 115-degree angle lens, which can then be directly uploaded to your Snapchat Memories via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when you’re near your phone. The device appears to be loosely based on Google Glass, which produced plenty of hype on its own a few years ago, but ultimately failed.
Are Snapchat’s Spectacles doomed to fail as well? Perhaps, but so far Snapchat's device has already tackled some of the more glaring issues with Google Glass.
The first obstacle that Spectacles have overcome is pricing. Google Glass was priced at an exorbitant $1500, making it affordable to a very limited number of people. Despite the innovative nature of the device, the price was ultimately a deal-breaker for most. Spectacles, on the other hand, will be sold for a more reasonable price of $129.99 – more than less than 1/10 of the price of Google Glass. This price brings Spectacles within reach of a much larger audience.
The second thing that Spectacles have over Glass is simplicity. Spectacles only do the one function – record 10-second (but up to 30-second) video snippets – whereas Google Glass was able to do that and more. Not only could Glass record longer lengths of video, but it could also conduct Google Searches, use Google Hangouts, view reminders, weather, dictate texts, and a whole lot more. It was essentially an emulator for the most important apps in your smartphone. So many extra features helped justify Glass’s higher price point, but $1500 was still a stretch for what most people would want to spend on a new technology, especially once you consider the obstacles experienced by early adopters of Google Glass.
Not only were there concerns from non-Google Glass users about being recorded without consent or knowledge (Google Glass did eventually have a recording indicator light on the outside of the device, and Snapchat Spectacles do as well), but oftentimes authorities even got involved. One Glass “Explorer”, as early adopters were called, was removed from a movie theater for wearing his prescription strength Google Glasses, and then interrogated by federal agents based on suspicion of piracy. Another Explorer was pulled over and ticketed for wearing the device while driving, although the ticket was dismissed as there wasn't enough evidence to support that the device was on.
Google Glass, as revolutionary as it was, just had too much going against it. Despite their similarities, I don't think that Snapchat’s Spectacles will be met with the same amount of condemnation. Will there be some? Absolutely. But overall, I think its limited, yet useful, functionality will be met with more praise than criticism. The chance of somebody recording 10-30 seconds of a movie constantly, or even quickly enough to record the entire movie, and furthermore stringing them together in order to sell pirated copies is extremely slim. Even while driving, the simple tap to record function could easily be dismissed as being about as distracting as changing the dial on your radio station (although it could still easily become a distraction if the driver intends record something irrelevant to their own driving). Overall, though, the usefulness of being able to record snippets of what users see through their eyes – which is about all this gadget can do – seems like a product people could learn to love.
I think that Snapchat’s Spectacles have a good chance of working out decently, but there are still questions that need to be answered. We don't know what the quality of the camera is yet, whether they're waterproof or offer prescription lenses like Google did (they are sunglasses, however, so probably not if I had to guess) or whether people will even consider them “cool” enough to use or not. We'll find out soon enough, as the device is said to release sometime this fall in "limited quantities".
Readers, what are your thoughts on Spectacles? Do you predict that it will be a hit or a flop? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!