I just said, out loud to my empty apartment, “Echo, turn the living room light to 50%”. Then my living room light dimmed. Of course I said Thank You to this Internet of Things technology. Somehow I have come to rely on it. Although that was not intentional. As I regularly ask my Amazon Echo for the time, and turn my lights on remotely, it was only a matter of time I decided to add WiFi Sunglasses to my collection of things-i-dont-need-but-use-every-day-and-love.
What The Heck is Snapchat?
Snapchat is an app that I truly love. Why? Because I love story telling. After all, I have been telling stories on this blog since 2009. I love telling stories via writing, audio, photos, drawing, and now thanks to Snapchat, video. It is just another medium used for long-form story telling. Though it is ultimately temporary. (Isn’t everything?) My username is lintacious, follow me!
A few years ago, I wrote a guide to using Snapchat. Recent interface changes and upgrades have made that slightly outdated. I still use the photo/video app daily to tell stories. Maybe these stories are pointless but they are my stories. My story of buying a bagel in Manhattan is different from your story of buying a bagel elsewhere.
Before Snapchat featured more corporate Discover stories, I truly believed it was the pinnacle of the shared experience. At a time, I thought Snapchat was what the Internet was designed for. I still think that for the most part.
Whether you are taking a photo of your cats, a video of your vacation, or yourself ranting, sharing every day first-hand experiences is a great way to give others a fresh perspective.
What Are Spectacles?
Spectacles are a hardware product by Snap,inc. (Snapchat’s parent company). They are the first product created by Snap. Considering, this is the first piece of hardware from a software company, it really is a feat in design, use, and of course, marketing.
By design, Snapchat is an app. There is not a web-based version of it. You can download your snaps (photos/videos) and post them elsewhere. But you can only use Snapchat itself on a phone. Up until now, you needed a phone to take a photo or video.
Simply put, Spectacles are sunglasses equipped with a camera allowing you to take 10-30-second videos. These videos are uploaded into Snapchat via Bluetooth or WiFi. Then you can share your first-hand hands-free experiences with your friends. The lens provides not only a truly first-person experience but also peripheral sight.
A camera’s limitation is framing. It is difficult to show the expanse of a mountain range or urban skyline because a photo is abruptly cut off. Even a panoramic shot does not give a reliable scope. With a 115-degree camera, Spectacles provide an all-around perspective similar to that of vision. Honestly, the videos feel surreal and take some getting used to.
How Do I Buy Spectacles?
Purchasing the Spectacles is an experience in itself. I know how “sucker” I sound right now. I know some millenial advertising exec is very happy to read this. That’s okay. I pick and choose my capitalistic battle and will let myself get sucked into this one. Anyway, the shopping experience for buying Spectacles in NYC was really… cool.
In many other cities, Snapchat has used vending machines placed in not-obvious locations. Once people hear word, the lines start and never end. It is a really good gimmick. In NYC, the purchasing experience was a little different.
NYC has a Spectacles pop-up store! Well, at least until New Year’s day. (The time of this writing is 12/22). The scarcity of the product is intentional and genius.
The way the store works is in two parts:
1) Show up to the store between 4-7p to receive a wrist-band with a time slot. This is the time you are to come back to the store to make your purchase. The last time slot is 9:30-10p. The wristbands will likely be gone by 8p.
2) Come back at your assigned time slot. You are then let into the store where there are 3 Spectacles vending machines. You are allowed/encouraged to document the experience (via Snapchat of course). At the machine, pick your color Spectacles, put in your Credit Card ($130/each), then get your tube, and you’re done! Limit 2 per customer.
This was by far the least stressful tech-buying experience I’ve encountered. No crowded store. Only the people buying Spectacles were allowed inside. No tourists inside taking lots of pictures but not buying anything. Very minimal. Super easy process all around. I got to the store right from work, so about 6:30pm and got a wristband for 9pm. Killing time wasn’t too terrible in midtown.
Currently, the Snapchat pop up store is located at 59th st and 5th avenue. Directly across from the Apple Store Cube.
Why I Love Spectacles?
My Snapchat stories aren’t always the most interesting. But I am one of those people who love seeing “day in the life” experiences. It’s the typical every day stuff that can be intriguing to watch. Also, I live in NYC. To a lot of people, it is a whole other world. Many people have only seen it in movies. I like being able to give a slightly more realistic view of what it’s like to live here. Even if most of the time I sit in my Brooklyn apartment with my cats. Hey, that’s real life too.
At $130, I am fine with the price point. I have been considering a go-pro off and on the past few years. Mostly to use while running half marathons and maybe during an event. But those action cameras are really expensive. At about $400 not including accessories, it’s been difficult to justify. Comparatively, the Spectacles are much easier to justify. Even if I don’t have a use-case for them right now. I am sure over time I will get my moneys worth out of them.
It is surreal knowing that everything I see is recording and could possibly be shared. But I also love that about it. It’s providing context to the world. Instead of looking at this perfectly framed photo of my curated coffee table that I rearranged meticulously and is not practical for every day use, you can see the entire room in all of it’s imperfect glory. That feels more real. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, yet, but for now I like it.
Technical Specs and How Does It Work?
Let’s get right to business. How do these Snapchat sunglasses work!
- Spectacles are linked directly with one Snapchat account (not device) and linked via WiFi or Bluetooth
- Videos are stored on the glasses until they can be downloaded to the phone (via WiFi or Bluetooth)
- Push a button on the glasses to record a 10-second video; push again to add another 10-seconds; up to 30-seconds
- Videos are recorded using a 115-degree lens
- Push and hold the button to stop recording at any time
- Tap the side twice to view battery level
- Spectacles are charged inside the included case. The case can charge up to four times. A cable is included to charge the case.
- The glasses battery lasts about a day. It can store about 100 snaps.
- When you are recording, a light shows up on the exterior and interior so you and others know you are recording
- All video downloading and editing is done within Snapchat Memories
- Videos are automatically downloaded to Memories when you open Snapchat but are not automatically posted to your story
- When viewing someone’s Spectacles story, rotate your phone around for the full 115-degree effect
Snapchat Spectacles are video-recording-enabled sunglasses debuted by Snap,inc exclusively for use with Snapchat. They retail for $130 and are only sold at Snapchat vending machines.
My username is lintacious, follow me!
Yes I love technology.