Snap’s new Spectacles glasses are unveiled. But it cannot be bought. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel on Thursday unveiled the company’s first true augmented reality glasses, technology that he and Facebook think will one day be found everywhere like mobile phones. A demo showed virtual butterflies landing in Spiegel’s extended hand and fluttering over colorful plants.
Made with Snapchat’s software tools, the new Spectacles have dual waveguide displays capable of superimposing AR effects made. The frame features a built-in touchpad, two stereo speakers, and four built-in microphones. Front-facing cameras help the glasses detect the surface and object the user is looking at so that graphics more naturally interact with the world around the user.
For mass-market, these spectacles aren’t ready. Snap isn’t selling them, unlike past models. Through an application program online giving them directly to an undisclosed number of AR effects creators. According to Spiegel, the idea is to encourage a small portion of the 200,000 people who already make AR effects in Snapchat to experiment with creating experiences for the new Spectacles. To reach mainstream adoption, Spiegel has said that AR glasses will take roughly a decade.
In an interview, he shared with Verge that “I don’t believe the phone is going away. I just think that the next generation of Spectacles can help unlock a new way to use AR hands-free, and the ability to really roam around with your eyes looking up at the horizon, out at the world.”
The 1st two generations of Spectacles, released in 2016 and 2018, looked like sunglasses with a single camera on the corner of the frame. Videos can be snaped in a unique, spherical format that could be transferred to the phone and posted on Snapchat and other social media sites.
Snap started moving more toward AR in 2019 with the launch of 3rd generation Spectacles. That model added a 2nd camera to detect depth in videos, allowing for more advanced effects to be applied afterward. They lack displays. 1st a video had to be shot, imported to Snapchat, and then apply AR effects called Lenses by Snap.
The new 4th generation of Spectacles comes from Snap Lab, a secretive hardware division of the company. This company is also working on a camera drone. They weigh 134 grams and are designed to be worn indoors or outdoors with up to 2,000 nits of display brightness. There are two front-facing cameras, two stereo speakers, a touchpad on the side of the frame. At Snap’s virtual Partner Summit for developers, the new Spectacles were announced on Thursday.