By Todd Bernhard on Mon, 03/06/2017
Snap, maker of the app Snapchat, has unleashed a seemingly innocuous pair of sunglasses with camera dubbed Spectacles ($129.99) that could finally bring high-tech glasses that record to the mainstream. Unlike the Google Glass smart glasses, the Snapchat Spectacle glasses don't display anything, or have much intelligence at all. The Snapchat camera glasses just have one button that starts recording ten seconds of video. While recording, a circle lights up, so anyone being filmed should be tipped off to the fact, if they know what to look for.
While there are and have been camera glasses that record photos and videos, there are a few things that are distinctive about the Snapchat Spectacles. First, they record (or at least display) the video in a circular fashion. This means you can view the resulting content in landscape or portrait with no letterbox effect. It's a neat feature and something our smartphones ought to do. The Snapchat camera glasses also pair easily with your smartphone and your Snapchat account, by displaying the familiar Snapchat ghost mascot on your phone and looking at it with your new Snapchat Spectacles. This is similar to how the Apple Watch is paired, visually, with an iPhone. Videos are automatically saved on your iOS device so you don't need to worry about storage in the glasses.
Finally, the Snapchat Spectacles have a clever charging mechanism. When folded, the camera glasses expose their charging mechanism and when opened and worn, those electronics are hidden. The Spectacles are sold in a tube-like case, similar to a tennis ball or Pringles container but not as tall; and they are charged by that case, which unfortunately uses a proprietary connector. Still, it's a well-designed, well-thought-out pair of sunglasses with camera and probably worth the $129.99 list price. However, early adopters went crazy, spending five times that amount on eBay and from scalpers because, up until now, the only way to get one was from a rare vending machine, dubbed a Snapbot, that had been popping up, and disappearing, mysteriously, primarily in Southern California. Snap may have done what Google couldn't do: make high tech camera glasses fashionable! Now you can order them directly from Snap.