Snapchat has created weird, ingenious way to sell smart glasses
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Photo Credit: Snapchat

Photo Credit: Snapchat

They are using a gimmick, yes, but one that blends in better than Google Glass

Snap (formerly known as Snapchat) is trying a unique approach to marketing its new video-streaming sunglasses: Spectacles. Rather than put them online or in brick-and-mortar stores at first, they will be available from vending machines, dubbed “Snapbots,” at $129.99 a pop, plus sales tax.

The company will post the vending machines’ “landing” location in advance on a map at spectacles.com.

The first Spectacles’ vending machines will be available in Venice Beach, CA, reports Recode. This is a limited rollout, and though CEO Evan Spiegel, has described the devices as toys, there is going to be demand for these due to their casual design and ease of use, something Google Glass was lacking and which aesthetically alienated consumers. That they look more like “regular” glasses will probably help people get used to them, and also, the prospect of being captured by them as users wander about.

That said, given the price tag, it is more likely merely to help the company further lock in existing users to its brand. For now, the company does not seek a massive holiday season rollout for the Spectacles. Hardware is not the company’s business: the app is. As The Financial Times notes, though, Snap is preparing an IPO worth nearly $25 billion in early 2017 and could look to the wearables market for expansion of its services thereafter. Spectacles offer an interesting new way to use the app at a time when Facebook is snapping at Snapchat’s heels in the app store, now with its new “Flash” entry, a “lite” app for overseas sales.

The specifications for the wearable recording device include a 10-second “burst” feature to capture video, the wireless 115-degree frame-mounted camera to mimic human binocular vision, and a paired connection for users to upload content to mobile. On that end, they are compatible with any Apple device from the iPhone 5 on up with at least iOS 8 (iOS 10 preferred), and any Android devices with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth Low Energy.

The camera has several flashing patterns to indicate low battery, storage limit, available updates (which require a minimum 70% charge), or temperature problems. The frames come in teal, coal, and black – as do the lenses, not unlike the lens filter feature on the app itself.

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