Snap Inc. slow-rolled the introduction of Spectacles starting last fall through vending machines that appeared in different U.S. cities without advance warning, as well as a pop-up store in midtown Manhattan. The limited-release strategy was apparently to gauge demand while ramping up production and creating an aura of exclusivity at the same time. Through the end of 2016, the video glass had not generated any significant revenue, according to Snap’s IPO filing.
Snapchat had 69 million daily active users in December 2016, so if even just 10% of them fork over $130 for a pair of the video lenses, that’s a $900 million business right there. But the real aim with Spectacles might simply be to feed more Snaps and Stories into the social service’s maw, thereby boosting Snap’s advertising opportunities
The specs, which cost $130 (plus tax), are designed for Snapchat users to capture and upload 10-second clips to the social service. The videos are in a circular format, instead of the rectangular dimensions that cameras have always had, which is intended to more closely match the way people actually see, according to Snap.
The Spectacles feature a ring of lights around the camera lenses, which light up when a user is recording video. The glasses charge in the included case with battery life designed to support a full day’s use of Snapping.
The devices connect directly to the Snapchat app on smartphones via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Using what the company’s claims one of the smallest wireless video cameras in the world, it captures the short clips with a 115-degree field of view, which is designed to match human visual perspective, according to the company.