Aditya MadanapalleSep 26, 2016 10:43:56 IST
Snapchat has re-branded itself as Snap, which is now a camera company and launched hardware called Spectacles. Spectacles are dedicated hardware for taking point of view videos, that are saved as Memories in the application. There were indications that Snapchat would be getting into hardware ever since they joined the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, a multi-organisation body that maintains the Bluetooth wireless standard.
Around that time there were reports of an augmented reality headset from Snapchat, and what we have is a very basic device. Spectacles are sunglasses with a wireless video camera on one side and a ring of LED lights on the other, to indicate that a video is being taken. It is a very basic device, compared to other wearables or cameras meant for capturing memories. These include augmented reality headsets, the phone camera itself, or an action camera.
Google Glass is no longer sold to individuals, but companies and research organisations are using it. It was complicated, it was AR, and it set out to change the world. Getting instructions to remotely fix a broken device, or additional information during surgery were some of the use case scenarios for the glass. Boeing is actually using Google Glass in its production line, to easily help with component identification. Action cameras such as the GoPro are for showcasing heroic activities. Users rigged with a GoPro rig can be expected to parkour through the streets, jump off a tall building, or engage in watersports.
The Snap Spectacles are for the stupid things, something like showing your groggy friends the lame breakfast you are eating on a lazy Sunday morning. The idea is to tap a button near the hinge which will start recording a 10-second clip from your vantage and subsequent taps will record another clip and so on. This simplicity is awesome. Snap(chat) has always been big on AR, with the introduction of AR filters in their chat application, and these technologies might eventually make their way to the hardware products. However for now, this is just a cheap sunglasses with a camera in it. The device will be available for $130 (roughly Rs 8,675) according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
There have been hardware specifically meant to be used in conjunction with particular apps, but these were utility oriented. These included the Nike Fuel Band for fitness tracking, or stickers to find easy to misplace items. Wearables try to offer a better value proposition by doing more. The wireless hearables from Bragi are packed with 27 different sensors, that track activities as well as translates between languages using the IBM Watson AI. They are wireless earphones with extra capabilities. The Apple Watch is a powerful computer for the wrist, with capabilities beyond activity tracking and telling the time, when used with other devices in the Apple ecosystem.
As a contrast, there are cheap wearables that do a few things very well. The Pokémon GO Plus is a good recent example. This is a $35 (Rs 2,335) device that helps you catch Pokémon, a feature lacking in the version of the app for the Apple Watch 2, a device that is ten times more expensive. The Spectacles from Snap is another device that is purpose built and cheap. The circular video is a great idea to allow videos to be watched in any orientation. This is an exciting new direction for wearables. For those users who may not be willing to invest heavily in expensive emerging technologies that attempt to be increasingly smart, these cheap and dumb devices offer a refreshing alternative.
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