By Brian Klose
Wearable technology has the potential to connect in ways a smartphone can’t. The Fitbit, for example, tracks and displays health data in real time, keeping the wearer up to date on their heartrate, distance traveled, and other useful information. GoPro, one of the most popular wearable camera brands on the market, shoots high quality video with unprecedented flexibility in extreme situations. Snap, the media company behind Snapchat, has now joined the wearable technology arena with its newest product, Snapchat Spectacles, to surprisingly positive results.
Spectacles give any Snapchat user the ability to shoot 10-second videos from a first-person point of view, giving the wearer more opportunities to shoot more creative videos. With a touch of a button on the side of the sunglasses, the videos transfer to the user’s memories and can be sent via the Snapchat app. Once delivered, the videos can be viewed on both portrait and landscape orientations.
When I first heard of the Spectacles, I was immediately skeptical, mainly becasue of the failure of Google Glass in 2015. Google Glass, Google’s attempt at wearable technology, immediately drew criticism for its potential privacy concerns and excessive price of $1,500. Glass developed a particularly snobby culture around it, making it one of the most inaccessible pieces of technology available to the public. Google decided to discontinue the product in 2015, but still hope to develop newer versions in the future.
At first glance, I worried the Spectacles would garner the same privacy concerns. After reading reviews of the glasses, however, the tech experts agree that the Spectacles pose few privacy risks.
“These glasses can be cool,” said Emily Barry in a review for barrons.com, “maybe slightly goofy with a crowd of ordinary 20-somethings in a way the geeky Google Glass never could.”
The Spectacles’s design resembles more exaggerated sunglasses, and the two cameras on either side of the product do plenty to distinguish themselves from normal glasses. They also come in a variety of bright colors, so it’s clear these glasses are geared more toward younger people in more casual, playful situations.
At $130, the Spectacles offer a more affordable alternative to Google Glass. Compared to other, higher-quality wearable cameras, like GoPro’s $200 HERO Session camera, the Spectacles are more of a novelty toy not worth the hefty pricetag.
The glasses only work with the Snapchat app, so anyone looking to use the product outside of the app for videos longer than 10 seconds are out of luck.
“The videos that Spectacles produce do not translate particularly well to other social networks,” said Florence Ion in a review for androidcentral.com. “You can probably get a little creative with the aid of other applications, but the process of actually exporting the Spectacles video to your camera roll is another headache that’s not worth bothering with unless you have some time to kill.”
Still, the Spectacles offer a revolutionary step forward in social media and technology integration. Avid Snapchat users, especially ones who use the platform to methodically document and share their daily lives, will find plenty of opportunites to spice up their stories.