Spectacles are (as the name suggests) eye-glasses, with an inbuilt camera that syncs to Snapchat’s mobile app. At first glance, Spectacles are eerily reminiscent of the failed Google Glass experiments, and on the surface, they are indeed quite similar. But glamour shots and glass-hole jokes aside, Evan Spiegel may be about to prove for the second time why he’s the product design protege of a generation.
Evan Spiegel wearing Spectacles (photo by Karl Lagerfeld for Wall Street Journal).
When Snapchat launched in 2011, the app’s 'disappearing content' was tarred and feathered with ‘sexting’ and ‘dick-pic’ connotations. But beyond the scarlet letter, this disappearing content was actually significant of a wildly new approach to social media. Instead of the hyper-curated selfie shrines of Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat is conversational reality - images are both shared and consumed in the moment. Spectacles look set to build on this point of difference in a number of ways.
Firstly, the inbuilt camera has a 115 degree lens - wider than the traditional camera lens and more similar, in fact, to the human eye’s perspective field. Secondly, Spectacles have circular video output, meaning that captured videos play full screen, regardless of the orientation of the viewer’s device. By closely mimicking the human eye’s field of vision and doing away with the vertical/horizontal orientation disconnect, Spectacles come about as close to recreating the human viewing experience as you can get. Combine this with the slightly more obvious departure from reliance on traditional smartphone cameras, and there’s the distinct sense of disturbance in the force.