Snapchat Spectacles

Snapchat Launches New Augmented Reality Smart Glasses With Voice Commands for Lens Creators

Snap Inc. released a new and improved version of the Spectacles smart glasses for Snapchat, with sophisticated augmented reality tools and voice controls. The new Spectacles aren’t for sale, however. Snapchat only wants to send the Spectacles to select members of the Lens creator community and has set up an application process for those who want to get a pair.

Spectacular Spectacles

The new Spectacles significantly upgrade the technology of the previous, consumer-focused version of the smart glasses. The glasses manage to pack two cameras, four microphones, two speakers, and a touchpad into about 5 oz (134g). The Spectacles use the Houndify-powered Voice Scan to enable hands-free Lens launching, although the touchpad on the side of the glasses or the Snapchat mobile app can also operate the device. The smart glasses place an AR filter encompassing 26.3 degrees diagonally in front of the lenses as the image up top showcases.

“Over the years, our journey building Spectacles alongside the creator community has been one of exploration, learning, and fun. We’ve used every iteration as a building block, opening the door to a whole new dimension of AR. Spectacles aren’t for sale—they’re for augmented reality creators to reimagine the way we communicate, live, and explore the world together through AR experiences built in Lens Studio,” Snapchat wrote in a blog post. “Spectacles tap into our human senses of sight, touch, and sound to bring Lenses to life. Powered by our new Snap Spatial Engine that leverages six degrees of freedom and hand, marker, and surface tracking, Spectacles realistically overlay creators’ imaginations on the world in a new way.”

Creative AR

Overlaying a creator’s imagination means using the Spectacles to test new filter ideas designed on the Lens Studio desktop app for Snap’s creator community. The Lenses can then be transmitted to the Spectacles to try out and improve before publishing them for general use. The Spectacles leverage the high-quality The Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 powers the experience, but so much happening at once is energy-intensive, and the battery in the Spectacles only operates for about half an hour.

Everything about the new Spectacles makes it clear they are an enterprise, not a consumer-grade tool. That Snapchat is portraying them as the next iteration of the existing Spectacles suggests they might be available for public purchase eventually, but for now, it’s only professional Snapchat power users you will see wearing them. Everyone else will have to make do with a new Snapchat filter that lets you digitally try on the Spectacles, as modeled by Cabbage here.

“We’ve offered the new Spectacles to a select group of creators around the world to learn alongside us and push the boundaries of AR,” Snap wrote in introducing a half dozen creators already using the smart glasses. “Through Spectacles and Lens Studio, these creators have already brought their imaginations to life, with the world as their canvas.”


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