Wearables

Snap's new AR specs are its most advanced yet – but you can't buy them

Snap's new AR specs are its mo...
Snapchat Spectacles are designed to let users see the world in AR
Snapchat Spectacles are designed to let users see the world in AR
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Snapchat Spectacles are designed to let users see the world in AR
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Snapchat Spectacles are designed to let users see the world in AR
The specs are aimed at creators building new Snapchat Lenses
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The specs are aimed at creators building new Snapchat Lenses
You can expect more AR hardware from Snap in the future
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You can expect more AR hardware from Snap in the future
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We saw the first pair of Snapchat Spectacles in 2016, and now Snapchat parent company Snap has come out with its most advanced wearable yet: a pair of glasses with full augmented reality capabilities.

These aren't going on general sale, though. They're made for creators working with Snapchat's Lenses platform, which produces AR overlays that the rest of us can put on top of our Snapchat photos and videos.

"Spectacles tap into our human senses of sight, touch and sound to bring Lenses to life," Snap explains in a blog post. "Dual 3D waveguide displays and a 26.3-degree field of view overlay Lenses on the world, right before your eyes [...] 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."

One of the demos made alongside the launch of the new device shows AR butterflies landing on the hand of Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. These are the sorts of immersive experiences that the latest Spectacles are designed to help enable.

The specs are aimed at creators building new Snapchat Lenses
The specs are aimed at creators building new Snapchat Lenses

In terms of hardware, the specs have four built-in microphones, two stereo speakers, and a touchpad built into the frame itself. Front-facing cameras map the outside world, so AR effects look as realistic as possible.

Everything is running on top of a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 processor made specifically for AR devices, and the glasses weigh in at 134 grams – significantly lighter than, say, the Microsoft HoloLens headset.

The 30-minute battery life is an indication that this is a device not ready for the masses yet, though it presumably might be one day. Some of the biggest names in tech, including Facebook and Apple, are reportedly working on similar kinds of hardware – Spiegel says AR glasses in general will be mainstream in another decade.

These new Snapchat Spectacles are a big jump forward from the previous models, which essentially just recorded video in a Snapchat-friendly format, and the new product underlines Snap's goal of pushing into hardware as well as software.

Snap this week has also acquired an augmented reality company called WaveOptics, which makes waveguides and projectors for AR glasses. You can expect many more iterations of these specs to arrive in the future, but for now they're for professional AR creators only.

Product page: Snapchat Spectacles

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2 comments
2 comments
Unsold
Yes, but you'll need serious street cred to pull off wearing them. Urkel mode is an instagram away.
Ornery Johnson
Hopefully, Snap will realize that most people don't want to make it obvious that their eyewear could be recording everything (and everyone) around them. A decade later, we still remember the whole Google "glass-holes" phenomenon.