Snap, Inc. calls itself a “camera company” so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that it’s working on new versions of its Spectacles hardware (especially since we reported just that last June). But a new report from Cheddar has surprised some with news that Snap is working on a refresh of their hardware´set to launch later this year, as well as a two-camera version planned for 2019.
The camera-equipped Snapchat Spectacles sunglasses, originally released in 2016, were briefly a hot commodity thanks to limited, pop-up retail only availability, but ultimately didn’t impress with total hardware sales and generally lacklustre broader retail launch. At $130, they come in a variety of colors and house a single camera at the joint where the arm meets the front of the frames, which captures circular video for sharing clips on Snapchat.
While some are expressing mystification about why Snap would continue developing this product in light of that performance, I think it makes perfect sense that the Snapchat-maker would take another kick at the can. Spectacles did create a big moment for Snap, for instance, especially in the early days, and that’s the kind of brand advertising that you can’t even buy with a gigantic advertising budget.
Also, if Snap is serious about being a camera company, it won’t give up after one middling attempt. It’s apparently planning to build slight improvements into the next new version, intended to ship this fall, per Cheddar, with new colors, water resistance, and performance improvements. But the big changes are being lined up for next year’s model, which could incorporate an aluminum frame design, and 3D-depth effects in videos capture using them thanks to a second camera. Plus, they might also build in GPS for geotagging and a leather case, with a cost increase to around $300 for the premium features.
Spectacles’ disappointing first outing resulted in some significant setbacks for its hardware division, per Cheddar, including layoffs and management turmoil, but now it’s hoping to move forward with its gadget plans and it even acquired a company called FiveLocal, per Cheddar, to help prototype camera tech for various different types of potential gadgets.
Cheddar also reports that Snap is considering partnering with Luxottica and Warby Parker on sales on building camera tech into their existing eyeglasses, though it seems like those discussions are still at an early stage.
As we reported previously, the new report says that Snap is also intending to incorporate augmented reality into future version of Spectacles, including potential Bitmoji AR features.