Snapchat has launched Spectacles, the company’s first gadget – sunglasses with a built-in camera.
Spectacles will go on sale later this year priced at $130.
The glasses will record up to 30 seconds of video at time.
As part of the announcement, Snapchat is renaming itself to Snap, Inc.
Image source Snapchat
The company’s renaming decision underlined its apparent ambition to go beyond the ephemeral messaging app, a product which is highly popular with young people.
An article published by the Wall Street Journal on September 23 showed Snap’s 26-year-old creator Evan Spiegel in a series of pictures taken by legendary fashion photographer Karl Lagerfeld.
In an interview, Evan Spiegel explained his rational for creating Spectacles.
“It was our first vacation, and we went to [Californian state park] Big Sur for a day or two. We were walking through the woods, stepping over logs, looking up at the beautiful trees.
“And when I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes – it was unbelievable.
“It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.”
On September 24, Snap released some limited information about how the glasses will work.
Footage will be recorded in a new, circular format which can be viewed in any orientation, the company said. The battery on the device will last around a day.
A light on the front of the device will indicate to people nearby when the glasses are recording.
Prior to confirmation from Snap about the product, Business Insider published a promotional video it found on YouTube showing the product. The video has since been taken down.
Spectacles will remind many of Google Glass, an ill-fated attempt by the search giant to create smart glasses.
While Google Glass did get into the hands of developers around the world – at a cost of $1,500 each – the device never came close to being a consumer product. Google eventually halted development, but insisted the idea was not dead.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Snap is not treating Spectacles as a major hardware launch, rather a fun toy that will have limited distribution.
Google has revealed for the first time what view users will get through its “Project Glass” wearable computer.
1. Google Glass responds to voice commands
Google Glass will perform many of the same tasks as smartphones, except the spectacles respond to voice commands instead of fingers touching a display screen.
2. Run on Google’s Android
The glasses include a tiny display screen attached to a rim above the right eye and run on Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices.
3. Take picture or record videos while on the move
Because no hands are required to operate them, Google Glass will make it easier for people to take pictures or record video wherever they might be or whatever they might be doing.
4. Online searches can be easily conducted
Online searches also can be more easily conducted by just telling Google Glass to look up a specific piece of information. Google’s Android system already has a voice search function on smartphones and tablet computers.
Google Glass will perform many of the same tasks as smartphones, except the spectacles respond to voice commands instead of fingers touching a display screen
5. Google Glass can synch to the Internet
The eyewear features built-in camera, microphone and speaker technology and can synch to the Internet using wireless connections.
6. Video through the eyes of wearers can be streamed live
As with the sky divers, cyclists, and wall-walkers who took part in the Google developers conference stunt, video through the eyes of wearers can be streamed live on Google’s social network.
7. Google Glass will come in 5 colors
Google said all of the footage was captured through Project Glass, which will come in five colors – black, gray, blue, red or white and have removable shades.
8. Google Glass for mass market will cost less than $1,500
Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the mass-market version of Google Glass will cost less than $1,500, but more than a smartphone.
9. Google first began developing glasses in 2010
Sergey Brin has been overseeing the work on Google Glass, which the company first began developing in 2010 as part of a secretive company division now known as Google X.
10. Google Glass to hit market in 2014
Google Glass is at the forefront of a new wave of technology known as “wearable computing’ and should hit the market in a little more than a year. The company hopes it will someday make fumbling with smartphones obsolete.
A group called “Stop The Cyborgs” warns that Google Glass and other augmented reality gadgets risk creating a world in which privacy is impossible.
Stop The Cyborgs wants limits put on when headsets can be used.
It has produced posters so premises can warn wearers that the glasses are banned or recording is not permitted.
The campaign comes as politicians, lawyers and bloggers debate how the gadgets will change civil society.
Stop The Cyborgs warns that Google Glass and other augmented reality gadgets risk creating a world in which privacy is impossible
Based in London, the Stop The Cyborgs campaign began at the end of February and the group did not expect much to happen before the launch of Google Glass in 2014.
However, the launch coincided with a push on Twitter by Google to get people thinking about what they would do if they had a pair of the augmented reality spectacles. The camera-equipped headset suspends a small screen in front of an owner and pipes information to that display. The camera and other functions are voice controlled.
Google’s push, coupled with the announcement by the 5 Point Cafe in Seattle to pre-emptively ban users of the gadget, has generated a lot of debate and given the campaign a boost.
Posters produced by the campaign that warn people not to use Google Glass or other personal surveillance devices had been downloaded thousands of times.
In addition, coverage of the Glass project in mainstream media and on the web had swiftly turned from “amazing new gadget that will improve the world” to “the most controversial device in history”.
The limits that the Stop The Cyborg campaign wants placed on Google Glass and similar devices would involve a clear way to let people know when they are being recorded.
In a statement, Google said: “We are putting a lot of thought into how we design Glass because new technology always raises important new issues for society.”
“Our Glass Explorer program will give all of us the chance to be active participants in shaping the future of this technology, including its features and social norms,” it said.
Already some US states are looking to impose other limits on augmented reality devices. West Virginia is reportedly preparing a law that will make it illegal to use such devices while driving. Those breaking the law would face heavy fines.