Snapchat has changed its name to Snap and unveiled its first physical product—Snap Spectacles—which include a small integrated video camera that lets users capture short daily video clips that can be shared with others.
Snap announced Spectacles in a Sept. 24 post on the company's website and also unveiled its new name to reflect that it now is more than just a social media chat company.
"We've been working for the past few years to develop a totally new type of camera," Snap said in the post describing Spectacles. "Imagine one of your favorite memories. What if you could go back and see that memory the way you experienced it? That's why we built Spectacles."
Spectacles devices are a pair of sunglasses that include an integrated video camera that makes it easy for users to create their memories, which can then be shared through Snapchat. The very small wireless video camera allows users to take a day's worth of Snaps on a single charge, according to the post. The sunglasses will be available in three different colors. Spectacles can be connected directly to Snapchat via Bluetooth or WiFi so users' Memories video clips can be loaded directly into the app in a new circular video format.
"Circular video plays full screen on any device, in any orientation, and captures the human perspective with a 115-degree field of view," the company announced.
With the introduction of Spectacles—the company's first physical product—it was time to change the operation's name, Snap explained in a separate post. "Now that we are developing other products, like Spectacles, we need a name that goes beyond just one product—but doesn't lose the familiarity and fun of our team and brand."
To do that, the business dropped the "chat" part of its name and went with the shorter name, Snap.
Snap didn't release any more details about Spectacles, but a Sept. 24 report by The Wall Street Journal said the device will record short video clips up to 10 seconds each from the vantage point of the wearer. Each tap of a button on the bottom of the glasses allows users to capture another 10-second video clip.
The devices, which use a 115-degree-angle lens, are built in one size to fit all users and will be available this fall in black, teal and coral colors, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, told the Journal.
Instead of having to hold a smartphone up to capture video, users can wear Spectacles and be in the moment. "As you record, your hands are free to pet dogs, hug babies or flail around at a concert," the story reported. "You can reach your arms out to people you're filming, instead of holding your phone up, as Spiegel describes it, 'like a wall in front of your face.'"
Spiegel said the company has been testing a prototype of Spectacles since early 2015.
Snap did not immediately respond to an email inquiry from eWEEK on Sept. 26 seeking additional details about Spectacles.
A Sept. 24 report by Bloomberg said a "limited supply" of Snap Spectacles will retail for about $129.99, according to a company spokeswoman.
Spectacles are very different from Google's earlier Google Glass project, which involved an eyewear-mounted computer with a built-in video camera. Google Glass first arrived on the tech scene when the company showed off the devices at the June 2012 Google I/O developers conference. Google Glass was a futuristic eyewear-mounted computer providing its wearer with heads-up information, notifications, photo and video capabilities, and much more.
The first beta Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up to buy a set at the Google I/O event for $1,500 for testing and development. Google eventually began shipping beta Glass units to any users who wanted to buy the still-fledgling devices for $1,500 through a Google Glass Explorer program that aimed to gather more input and experience with such devices from a larger pool of beta users. In January 2015, Google ended the original Glass Explorers project and said it might back the device in the future in another form after what amounts to an indefinite hiatus.
Each Google Glass device of the first generation included adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also featured a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio was delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.