Snapchat’s Spectacles Are A Sign Of The Times

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Remember Google Glass? In 2012, the search-engine’s dabble into wearable technology made people reason with the possibility of an anime-like future. Their smart glasses with a camera built into the frames wasn’t as well-received as the company had hoped. People were rightly concerned with a discreet recording device sitting on the bridge of people’s noses. The implications ranged from unsettling to criminal and the spiteful slur ‘glasshole’ came out of the fallout. Despite the debacle, Snapchat is firmly committing to smart glasses with its Spectacles. So what’s changed?

It’s 2019 now and people are much more comfortable in front of a camera. Between GoPros, dash cams and the 2.1 billion smartphones around the world, someone is always in the spotlight. Life-vloggers who record absolutely everything is this behavior at its extreme , but goes to show how we overshare a little too much. Snapchat and Instagram Stories’ disposable content is filmed, filtered and posted all over the without a signed consent form in sight. Spectacles were the next logical step, with a camera always ready-to-go.

The plastic frames has two little lens which, among other things, can record ten second snippets of the wearer’s point-of-view.  The hype was intense, promising a future which didn’t eventuate. The company admitted the glasses’ launch was tad ambitious with the its first iteration selling only 220,000 pairs – a quarter of its stock. Besides the worry about privacy, the glasses were clunky and had issues with file-sharing. The hefty price tag of $130 for a pair of sunglasses which definitely looked like it had hardware built into it didn’t help either.

Not defeated, Snapchat is back again with its second iteration. Spectacles V2 are sleeker, thinner and come in a trendy array of glossy colours. They have updated the software, with smoother phone integration and less restricted file-sharing options. Snapchat’s CEO Evan Spiegal is referring to them as a ‘toy’ too, probably to quell fears its another Google Glass attempt. After all, the glasses can only record at maximum 10-second clips, making it difficult to film for long stretches of time without others noticing. The lenses light up to show its filming for added comfort too. All in all, Spectacles and similar technology could be spotted regularly out-and-about soon. Other smart glasses are beginning to enter the market as well, signalling this shift. Not even a decade ago, a lens pointed in our direction made our skin scrawl. But Snapchat may be onto something with this project. So remember to smile because you could be on camera.

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