Snapchat is getting into the hardware game.
On Friday, the company unveiled Spectacles, a pair of sunglasses that comes equipped with a video camera that records clips, or Snaps, of up to 10 seconds.
These snaps can be uploaded to Memories, Snapchat’s recently-launched feature that allows users to store photos and videos for posterity.
The concept behind Spectacles is simple – “Specs make memories, from your perspective” – but the implications could be significant, especially for marketers active on Snapchat, which now has more daily users than Twitter.
Here’s what brands need to know.
Nobody knows if Spectacles will take off, but don’t underestimate them
Snapchat isn’t the first tech company to set its sight on eyewear. For instance, many are comparing Spectacles to Google Glass, which didn’t exactly take over the world.
But that doesn’t mean that Spectacles won’t be a success.
At $130, Spectacles will be a lot cheaper than Google Glass, and they serve a much simpler purpose.
Their appearance, which some are criticising, might not appeal to those in the tech media or above the age of 30, but that’s the point: Spectacles haven’t been designed for them.
They have been designed for Snapchat’s users, over half of whom are 24 years-old or younger.
For these reasons, brands shouldn’t assume that Spectacles will go the way of past connected eyewear.
They could change the nature of content on Snapchat
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel says he tested one of the prototypes for Spectacles in early 2015 when he went hiking with his fiancée…
It was our first vacation, and we went to 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.
While video recorded by Spectacles will ostensibly be similar to that taken by helmet-mounted GoPro cameras as opposed to smartphones, if Spectacles catches on, first-person video could come to be a prominent part of the Snapchat content experience.
Brands active on the service will need to monitor this, as it could impact the type of creative they need to produce to ensure that their Snapchat efforts meet user expectations and are successful.
The future possibilities are endless, but…
The Wall Street Journal notes that devices like Spectacles could pave the way for numerous commercial possibilities…
Beyond the images it produces, a wearable camera also knows a lot about what you’re doing in any given moment: which person you’re looking at, which product you’re browsing in a store window, whether the sky is blue or gray.
It might guess what you need before you ask for it. In a tech scrum where fighting for a share of people’s daily video consumption is a zero-sum game, using the camera like this opens up fresh commercial possibilities.
For those possibilities to materialize, Spectacles or its successors would need to become a lot more like Google Glass.
That seems unlikely to happen any time soon, but it’s worth considering that a product like Spectacles could be the trojan horse that allows individuals to become comfortable with connected eyewear before all of the functionality connected eyewear makes possible is seen as acceptable.
They could be a source of controversy
Perhaps the biggest threat to Spectacles’ success is how society will react to it.
Despite the fact that consumers are using smartphones to capture photos and videos in public places, a pair of glasses with a camera is different than a smartphone and Google Glass sparked a lot of privacy concerns.
In fact, Google Glass wearers found themselves being labeled “glassholes” and were banned from businesses that feared their patrons would object to the possibility of being recorded so easily without their knowledge.
For brands and local businesses, Spectacles could be a double-edged sword.
On one hand, they will offer a new way to connect with young consumers and encourage them to produce content around their brands and businesses.
But they could also potentially alienate and even drive away more privacy-conscious customers, so brands and business owners will want to tread carefully.