Snap, the company behind social networking app Snapchat, revealed today the Spectacles 3, the latest version of its augmented reality (AR) sunglasses that comes with dual HD cameras and a new 3D ability.
This latest version of Spectacles, which is available for pre-order today on the Spectacles website, will start shipping in November.
A total of sixteen countries will see the first of Spectacles 3 units, including the United Arab Emirates (but not Saudi Arabia) where it will retail for AED1,500.
Spectacles 3 will retail for £330 in the UK and $380 in the US, making it the most expensive Spectacles ever sold by Snap and more than double the cost of its $150 entry-level version.
For that price, Spectacles 3 comes with an all-new design and build—but its the camera tech where it really levels up.
Spectacles 3 comes with an additional HD camera, giving it the ability to create depth perception and capture Snaps in 3D. Users can then choose from a bunch of new 3D effects to create their own unique ‘3D Snaps’ via their Snapchat app.
At the moment, these 3D effects are limited to Snapchat’s own suite of 3D effects, but third-party developers will be allowed to develop for this functionality going forward.
Spectacles 3 will also ship with a 3D viewer, which resembles the Google Cardboard, should users want to view their 3D snaps more immersively than on a phone screen.
Spectacles 3 will come in two color options at launch, Carbon (closer to Black) and Mineral (sort of Gold?), and a durable, lightweight steel frame with circular lenses and adjustable acetate tips.
According to a Snap executive, this steel frame (the previous versions used plastic) was almost a necessary design change to house the two HD cameras more easily than just a single camera.
Works the same
Operating the Spectacles 3 is pretty much like the previous versions. You have to tap either button for video (up to 60 seconds continuously) or press and hold for a still image.
Spectacles 3 comes with 4 GB storage aka it can store up to 100 videos or 1,200 images at a time. Images will be stored at a resolution of 1,642 x 1,642 pixels, while videos are stored at 1,216 x 1,216 pixels.
These images and videos can be edited with effects are after they are synced to the app on Android or iOS, post which they can be used as ‘Snaps’ and/or exported for other platforms.
Also, like the earlier versions, Spectacles 3 can be recharged by placing in the charging case that ships with the device, which Snap claims can hold up to 4 charges, and is itself recharged via a USB-C cable.
They will be able to record around 70 videos before needing a recharge.
Why a Spectacles 3 and why now?
There is a lot to digest here on why Snap, which has previously has written off a ginormous amount of dollars in costs associated with the first version of Spectacles, would still be investing in this game?
And while it is at it, why offer a version that is more than double the retail price of its predecessors, and probably clearly out of range for the high school and college students that make up a chunk of its user base?
To be clear, as Snap executives told us, the $149 and $199 Spectacles are not going away. They will still be offered alongside Spectacles 3, ensuring that the core base always has an affordable option.
What this move does do is open up another pricey, quasi-luxury segment within its Spectacle offering, which Snap executives say will appeal to the fashion-forward type of audience.
Will there be enough takers? It is hard to say what will be enough for such a price point sitting here on the outside.
Snap executives have (bravely) indicated that just numbers are not the stated goal here and instead, what they are trying to do is “to push the boundaries of augmented reality and camera technology.”
What I think however is that this is one of the many, many penultimate (!) steps Snap will take, before it (hopefully for it) finally finds that sweet spot of Spectacles being both consistently desirable and ubiquitous while still growing the number of users for its platform.