Snapchat is set to expand its horizons from the virtual to the physical. The firm unveiled its very first product, a pair of sunglasses with a built-in camera. The sunglasses, simply dubbed Spectacles, is priced at $130 (£100) and is slated to be publicly launched soon. The app's founder Evan Spiegel also announced that Snapchat will be renaming itself to Snap, Inc.
The firm said, "We've been working for the past few years to develop a totally new type of camera. We call it Spectacles! Spectacles are sunglasses with an integrated video camera that makes it easy to create Memories. Spectacles connect directly to Snapchat via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and transfer your Memories directly into the app in our brand new circular video format."
The renaming of the firm is believed to be indicative of its efforts to rebrand itself and go beyond the parameters of a popular messaging app. "Now that we are developing other products, like Spectacles, we need a name that goes beyond just one product — but doesn't lose the familiarity and fun of our team and brand," the company said.
Snapchat's Spectacles comes with a 115-degree camera lens and will be available in three colours — black, teal and coral. The device will also be able to record up to 10 seconds of video, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The report displayed Spiegel sporting the sunglasses in a series of promotional images shot by famed fashion photographer Karl Lagerfeld. In an interview, Speigel described his experience of the time he first tested the device. He said, "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."
A leaked promotional video of Spectacles was published by Business Insider, prior to the WSJ report, which announced the impending launch of the device. The leaked footage has since been taken down from YouTube.
Spectacles was also compared to Google's ambitious yet doomed Glass wearable, which while having been highly touted by some developers, failed to make it to the consumer platform. The tech giant's product was not only found to be ridden with hardware issues but also perceived as an invasion of privacy by some. Google eventually halted development of the device, insisting, however, that the idea behind Google Glass would thrive.
Spectacles on the other hand, which is priced much lower than Glass, may have a better shot at endearing itself to millennials, thanks to whom the messaging app's popularity soared to profitable success.
However, the WSJ report saw Spiegel attempting to downplay the role and launch of Spectacles as its first hardware product. The founder even drew comparisons of the product to a "toy".
"We're going to take a slow approach to rolling them out," Spiegel said. "It's about us figuring out if it fits into people's lives and seeing how they like it."