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Snapchat in the frame to make camera glasses cool

Can tech giant succeed where Google failed, asks Katie Wright

Published 19/11/2016

Snapchat’s cleverly marketed £102 Spectacles sold out at a vending machine on Venice Beach in Los Angeles
Snapchat’s cleverly marketed £102 Spectacles sold out at a vending machine on Venice Beach in Los Angeles

Remember Glass, the £1,000 smart spectacles launched by Google to much fanfare in 2012, but abruptly cancelled three years later following sluggish sales and a backlash from the public, who objected to being filmed without their knowledge?

Now, Snapchat has unveiled Spectacles, in a move which bears a remarkable similarity to Google's doomed project.

The social network announced the wearables back in September, but they went on sale for the first time this week, only available from a "Snapbot" vending machine positioned on sunny Venice beach in Los Angeles.

Described by parent company Snap as "a totally new type of camera", the sunglasses enable wearers to take 10-second video clips (called "Snaps") by pressing a button on the left arm, which can then be uploaded wirelessly straight to your Snapchat account.

Snap says the device, which is charged inside its case, is capable of taking a day's worth of Snaps, while the circular video format "captures the human perspective".

Reception has been good so far, the bright yellow vending machine attracting a lengthy queue and a reported three-hour wait for a chance to buy the £102 specs, before they sold out completely.

The lucky few who succeeded have been excitedly posting their first hands-free Snaps online, praising the shades for being simple to set up and fun to use.

So why has the reaction been overwhelmingly positive, especially in comparison to Google Glass?

For a start, positioning Spectacles as sunglasses rather than eyewear makes them instantly cooler, and the round lens design, available in black, turquoise and orange, is much more stylish.

While the camera lens is prominent on the corner of the frames, crucially, the round shape, outlined in yellow, is repeated on the other corner, making them symmetrical and balanced, as opposed to Glass' clunky lopsided design.

It's clear there's been a focus on fashion from the get-go, whereas Glass eschewed aesthetics in favour of technology - and even an appearance on the New York Fashion Week catwalk couldn't give it the street cred it needed.

Fancy getting your hands on a pair? Well, that might prove tricky. A mysterious snoozing animation on the Spectacles website (www.spectacles.com) suggests that the Snapbot will be back in business somewhere else soon, but it doesn't say when, or where.

But with winter on the way, you've got to wonder how useful a pair of sunnies - however smart they are - will be.

Belfast Telegraph

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