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Snapchat has promised it's working on a full-featured pair of augmented reality glasses for a while. It's one of many companies including Facebook, Niantic, and Qualcomm that are trying to crack the idea of everyday smart glasses. Snap’s new Spectacles glasses are its most ambitious yet.
They let you snap videos (and later photos) in a unique, spherical format that could then be transferred to your phone and posted to Snapchat or another social network. Front-facing cameras help the glasses detect objects and surfaces you’re looking at so that graphics more naturally interact with the world around you.
The plans announced at Snap's annual Partner Summit for app developers and brand partners are aimed at helping the company compete for more usage in a crowded social media landscape, as competitors like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok launch new features to court content creators.
Snap is also launching an AR “innovation lab” called Ghost and is committing $3.5 million to support creators making effects, with another $1 million in funding with Verizon to fund AR experiences used over 5G.
“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.”
CEO Evan Spiegel unveiled the new glasses at the company’s annual Partner Summit event, saying they now have the ability to “realistically ground digital objects in the physical world.” The new Spectacles have dual waveguide displays capable of superimposing AR effects made with Snapchat’s software tools. The frame features four built-in microphones, two stereo speakers, and a built-in touchpad.
Snapchat's newest Spectacles are full AR glasses with their own displays and can show 3D effects and games. The new version of the Spectacles glasses will not be sold to the public. They are aimed at artists and developers who want to build augmented reality experiences on Snapchat.