Glasses fit for the Snapchat generation

by Shane Dillon

OKAY, so glasses with cameras in them aren’t exactly a revolutionary idea (the less said about the quirky but doomed Google Glass, the better), but could the Snapchat Glasses succeed where others have failed?

Recent years have seen “wearables” take off in the consumer tech sector, most typically exemplified by the fitness trackers that lots of people use.

However, the popular notion of glasses that record what you see has never quite taken off, with Google’s recent doomed Glass project just the latest weable-camera tech that caught lots of media attention, only to get yanked from shelves fairly soon after release.

Whatever about the potentially cool aspects that augmented reality or video-recording glasses might have offered users, their typically steep price and muddled feature sets have generally left ordinary consumers cold.

Enter Snap Inc, the parent company of Snapchat, with their take on creating tech-enabled glasses – or sunglasses, in their case.

They’ve thrown away all the augmented reality stuff – so, no getting emails flashed from your phone into your view, or maps showing where you are, or similar quirky but distracting stuff.

Instead, they’ve gone for a simpler, consumer-friendly and ‘purer’ product – they’re just sunglasses that record what you see, making clips that can be easily viewed within Snapchat itself, or saved as video clips for other applications and social media sharing.

Tap a button and they start recording, with an external light turning on to show others that you’re recording, with video that can be sent to your phone or later downloaded.

That’s it – no forwarding calls, no GPS tracking, no email alerts: just portable video recording, in ten-second bursts (with regularly tapping a button on the camera side keeping the recording going for longer bursts.)

Stripping away all the bells and whistles to market it as a cool piece of wearables – with a strong social media aspect – was a great idea to help give the glasses a boost, and make them more palatable to consumers.

It’s a simple concept, but one that’s proved very popular since the US-only launch several months back, where it wasn’t unheard of to find queues of early tech adopters lining up to buy the glasses from special vending machines.

Now, the machines have started to pop up at a number of key European capitals, and while Dublin doesn’t have any – yet – I’d be very surprised if one doesn’t pop up here some time soon.

Adding to their potential allure is a reasonable price for a first-wave piece of new kit – €150, from Snapchat’s website, where they’re available in a limited range of colours.

It’s an interesting move for Snap Inc, with Snapchat’s clearly defined demographic and user base (primarily young females) creating what could be a pretty very lucrative group to target for sales and further spreading the tech.

Look out for these on the streets of Dublin soon.

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