Brand Storytelling & Snap Spectacles: Technology Insights

Snap Inc.’s first foray into wearable tech, Spectacles, landed late 2016 & marked a pivotal milestone in the company’s offering. Since then, we’ve seen an ingenious Spectacles launch strategy, waited with baited breath to get our hands on some & watched the first brands and influencers start creating content with the coveted shades. From a Snapchat Storytelling perspective, Spectacles offer exciting opportunities and a truly unique angle for content creators. There’s already a wealth of knowledge regarding how to use Spectacles (thanks, Google), so we’ve gone beyond the frame and outside the box to explore how you can best utilize the unique technology to tell better Snapchat Stories.

Eye-level 115 Degree Camera Lens:

Having a camera in your Sunglasses isn’t just a good conversation-starter - it’s the beginning of a much more intimate relationship between video and the human experience. For starters, it’s your true point-of-view; followers see what you see. Add to that the 115 degree lens angle — wider than the traditional camera lens & closer to the human eye’s perspective field — and the resulting Snap Spectacles’ footage feels different. It’s more personal, more of a visceral experience than pure voyeurism. The downside of this is obvious once you’ve used Specs for a while: A fixed angle lens, no zoom function, and head-mounted camera mean in order to change the focal point of footage, you need to move your head/body/self to direct the shot. One workaround is to intersperse Spectacles footage with native Snapchat footage, giving the resulting Story a cool mix of shots and camera angles.

Circular Video Output:

Snap Spectacles’ video outputs are likewise designed with viewer experience in mind. The circular footage plays full-screen, regardless of the orientation of the viewer’s device; it automatically detects and corrects to maximise available screen space whilst maintaining perspective. After geeking out over this new video format, we did discover a noteworthy caution: Because you can’t predict what orientation the content will be consumed in, it’s important to keep core elements in the centre of your shot. However, this apparent limitation can also be manipulated to purposefully obscure and reveal objects by instructing the viewer to rotate their screen accordingly (read: gamification). 

Hands-Free Filming & Durability:

There are certain activities that just don’t gel with having your hands full of phone or expensive camera gear. Things that were previously more difficult, too dangerous or impossible to capture can be filmed with relative ease (one tap to Snap, as always). The physical fit manages a balance between snugness and comfort across a range of face shapes - attested to by the many different heads of Mish Guru staff. These factors open up huge opportunities for exciting content capture - action sports, machinery operation and live music being a few that come to mind. One drawback is definitely their lack of water-proof accessories or water-resistance - an advantage that the likes of GoPro, iPhone and Samsung do boast. But, Snap’s recent hiring spree in the field of wearable tech might indicate developments in this direction in future iterations of Spectacles.


Video-Only, Default 10 Second Recording Time:

The inability to shoot stills with Spectacles is something we definitely noted as having an effect on workflow, as conscious Storytellers are accustomed to creating Stories from a balance of photo and video. As noted previously, the workaround of interspersing native Snapchat footage with Spectacles footage solved this, however, we’d like to see the stills feature in future Spectacles versions. A default ten-second minimum Snap time was by far one of our biggest gripes with the recording format. When you dive into engagement rates on Snap Stories, any videos over five seconds often lead to drop-off in completion rates. That being said, we haven’t seen drop-off rates for circular video nearly as high as we would have expected, perhaps due to the novelty of this format.


Bluetooth Transfer, Memories UI & Phone Battery Consumption:

Once synced, Specs footage downloads automatically via Bluetooth, making for relatively seamless transfer. Pairing Specs with your phone occurs via Bluetooth as well, meaning that in areas of high-density data transfer and Bluetooth activity (think: festivals & sports crowds) it can be tricky to pair your devices due to interrupted connections. For these types of events, pair your Specs prior.

Post-data transfer, there’s the actual functionality of the Memories interface to contend with. Specs footage is only accessible through Snapchat Memories, making for a few shortcomings and some challenging UI issues. While you can upload Specs content to your own Story, direct sending of Specs footage to your friends occurs through Chat, rather than as a Direct Snap. 

Another key consideration for Live content-capture with Spectacles is the incredible drain on phone battery. Specs themselves are relatively conservative on power consumption - the case carries four full charges, and one full charge can last up to several hours. The aforementioned data transfer, however, will leave your phone flatlining regularly, especially if you’re using other applications concurrently. Pack a portable phone charger or invest in a battery-charging case if you’re away from a wall charger for extended periods - good Snapchat practice overall.


Absence of AR Lenses/Filters:

After our initial honeymoon phase (in which Mish Guru staff were literally sporting the sunglasses day and night) we noticed some potential design limitations and setbacks. Absent from Spectacles are some of Snapchat’s most popular features - Augmented Reality Lenses & Filters. The inability to plaster a dog filter or vomiting-rainbow cloud over our surroundings was duly noted, however, we predict that Snap’s future focus on developments in AR and Wearable Tech will no doubt see these features added to Spectacles in some capacity.


Audio Challenges:

Anyone who’s attempted to record audio without a studio, boom operator and one heck of a lot of patience, will understand the struggle; sound recording is tough. With Spectacles, due to the single mic, its proximity to the wearer’s vocal source, and the fact that action sequences simply aren’t conducive to live audio recording, there is a risk of distortion and high levels of ambient noise. That being said, the sound quality is actually surprisingly good for narration in a stationary setting without too much noise pollution. Applying text captions to live-action recordings (like mountain-biking, skiing etc) means you don’t need to rely on audio to tell your story, something we generally recommend as a failsafe for critical information, anyway.

We hope this insight into Spectacles technology assists your brand in the pursuit of Snapchat magic! Got questions or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you! Send us an email here.

Up next, we take a closer look at how brands, agencies and influencers are using Spectacles to capture that #richcontent & tell compelling Snap Stories. Stay tuned!

Team Mish.