Snap Introduces Augmented Reality Spectacles for Creators

During last week’s Snap Partner Summit 2021, Snap showcased Spectacles, a new augmented reality version of its glasses that is not yet commercially available. Instead, the goal is to inspire creators to design new augmented reality experiences, with the aim of capitalizing on e-commerce. The company also updated the Scan feature, which, in concert with partners, allows use of the camera to identify everything from plants to dog breeds and car models. Chief executive Evan Spiegel said the moves are “a meaningful step forward in our platform strategy.”

Bloomberg reports that Snap also partnered with dating app Bumble to “allow users to send their matches video notes with Snapchat AR products” as well as The Walt Disney Company “to allow tourists at Walt Disney World to incorporate Snap AR experiences into their visit and photos.”

For creators, Snap debuted a way for fans to send them “gifts” that can be turned into cash. The company, which previously stated it would pay $1 million a day to top-performing creators, said that, “more than 5,400 creators have earned more than $130 million dollars as part of the program.”

To buoy its AR capabilities, Snap spent $124.4 million to acquire Fit Analytics, which “uses machine learning and webcams to allow users to create personalized fit profiles.” The company said the AR technology will “enable more accurate experiences trying on eyewear, watches, jewelry and full-body outfits” and allow brands to “create their own business landing pages on the app to house their AR campaigns.”

Snapchat currently has 500+ million monthly active users, about 40 percent of whom are located outside of North America and Europe.

Wired reports that, according to IDC research director Ramon Llamas, the latest version of Spectacles, which first debuted in September 2016, is a “radical departure from what Snap has done in the past.” “This is a different paradigm: The glasses have to be spatially aware of what’s going on, and developers have to build apps that align with the situation around you,” he said.

Snap product strategy manager Lauryn Morris said that, “our vision was to create a device that’s expressive, thought-provoking, and maintains a lightweight sunglasses form factor.”

The glasses weigh 4.7 ounces, “the lenses are stereo color displays that automatically adjust for brightness, up to 2,000 nits … the imagery that appears in front of the wearer’s eyes is generated by dual optical waveguides, and there are two RGB cameras built into the specs to capture the peripheral world.”

Other features include “four built-in mics for voice control, a pair of stereo speakers for spatial audio, and a touchpad on the right temple for navigating app interfaces.” The glasses also are “capable of inside-out tracking … but none of the earliest AR Lenses for Spectacles are utilizing this function yet.”

The AR version of Spectacles, which are built on Qualcomm’s XR1 platform, also offer a “26.3-degree diagonal field of view on the glasses [which] is smaller than the FOV on other head-up displays, such as Magic Leap and Microsoft HoloLens, and the touchpad needs some fine-tuning.” The battery lasts for only 30 minutes. Sound levels are only controlled via the app.

A link to a demonstration of the new AR Spectacles can be found here.