Social media app Snapchat is introducing video-recording sunglasses called Spectacles and is changing its company name to incorporate the new product. The glasses can record video 10 seconds at a time by tapping a button on the device. The video is then uploaded automatically to the popular image-messaging app via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The glasses are the first hardware from the Los Angeles-based company. The company says it’s changing its name to Snap Inc. since it now has more than one product. The app itself will retain the name Snapchat.
The glasses record so-called “circular video,” meaning it plays full-screen on any device in any orientation with a 115-degree field of view. In a post on the new Snap.com website, the company hailed the product as “a totally new kind of camera.” “We’ve created one of the smallest wireless video cameras in the world,” it says, “capable of taking a day’s worth of Snaps on a single charge, and we integrated it seamlessly into a fun pair of sunglasses.” “Imagine one of your favorite memories,” the post suggests. “What if you could go back and see that memory the way you experienced it?”
A user’s Spectacles connect directly to the Snapchat app via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi so the short video recordings can be easily shared. The specs will be available on a limited basis in the U.S. starting this fall, but no release date was announced. They will cost $130. The Spectacles recall Google’s much-hyped, but ill-fated, venture into digitally-enhanced eyewear, Google Glass, which took photos and video. Google’s device also had a screen that let you surf the web and a much higher price tag: $1,500.
Google shuttered that venture in early 2015 after it received a tepid response from the users. Snap’s core product, the Snapchat app, is facing new competition from Instagram, which last month debuted a new feature called “Instagram Stories” that appeared to be taken straight from Snapchat’s playbook. Like Snapchat, Instagram Stories lets users post a string of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.