Snap Inc. to Ship Third-Gen Spectacles as a Limited Edition

After unveiling its first-generation of brightly-colored Spectacles in 2016, followed by a more conservative second edition following two years of reengineering, Snap Inc. is about to debut Spectacles 3 — with hopes the eyewear will be more financially successful than the first version, which left the company with $40 million in unsold revenue. The second version offered better hardware, better design, as well as a high-end all-black version. Now, Spectacles 3, priced at $380 and marketed as a “limited edition launch,” will be offered with steel frames, classic details and two HD cameras for capturing footage with depth.

Wired reports that usage of Snap Spectacles has evolved from “the app for sending nudes” to messaging-with-photos, then broadcasting, news, games, music, and scripted entertainment as well as experimenting with AR and “turning yourself into a cartoon.”

Although “the hype seems to have cooled” since the company went public, “Snapchat is still wildly popular,” reporting 13 million new users in its July quarterly report. With version 3 of Spectacles, the user can do many of the things he could with previous versions: record up to 60 seconds of footage that uploads, automatically, into the user’s Snapchat Memories and can also be uploaded to Snap Story. With Spectacles 3, however, the user can apply 3D effects — such as confetti — with Snap Story.

Also new is a Snap 3D Viewer (similar to Google Cardboard) that will come with every pair of Spectacles 3. By sliding the phone into the viewer, the user can watch 3D content. “The fact that Snap is nudging its glasses toward virtual and augmented reality is unsurprising,” declares Wired, since “AR has always been Snap’s superpower.” It believes that Snap, by “continuously refining its shades,” has learned how to create “something that people will actually put on their faces.”

Will it be enough to ignite sales? Wired states that those looking for aesthetics might find Spectacles 3 to be “the tipping point,” but “those who are waiting for the sunglasses to do something else will have to keep waiting.”

Bloomberg reports that, “at $380 a pair, the new glasses are more than twice as expensive as Snap’s second version” and that the new Spectacles, already available for preorder, will ship this fall. The company isn’t expecting revenue from Spectacles to be significant, which is why it’s unveiling Spectacles 3 as a “limited edition” model, “with production just a fraction of the original model.”

The reason Snap continues to make Spectacles despite the dismal financial picture is because it “is a big believer in augmented reality and the blending of digital and physical worlds.” It already offers a range of AR software including face filters and, according to a Snap spokeswoman, Spectacles are intended “to draw our community closer to a future in which computing is overlaid on the world, rather than confined to a small screen.”