On Saturday, Snapchat dropped news that has a fairly big impact.
The reason for the change is that it views itself as a camera company, that has created Snapchat and Spectacles. Oh yes, Spectacles was the second thing that Snapchat, oops I mean Snap Inc., dropped on Saturday.
Now, we know how I feel about wearables … nine times out of 10 I don’t see their point and find them to be just another gadgetry fad. But then I feel like a cranky marketing grandma yelling at the new cool stuff to get off my lawn. And I’m too young for that. So instead of immediately rolling my eyes, let’s take look at Spectacles before any knee-jerk reactions.
Spectacles Look Cool
I’m a big fan of awesome eyewear, and I enjoy the shape of these rounded specs with a keyhole bridge and the faintest hint of a cat eye. The colors are fun, and I like the mirrored tint to the lenses, too. So … yay for looking cool? But what about people like me, who have to wear glasses or bump into furniture forever? It seems like Spectacles may only be for the visually-able, or at least folks who have contact lenses (but I’m also sure that’s no different than Google Glass, and well, Google Glass looked decidedly uncool).
The Eyewear Records Circular Video
Video is recorded through a 115-degree-angle lens that more closely matches the eyes’ natural field of vision, and when viewed on a device, plays in full orientation:
This makes for a seamless viewing experience, and I agree with Ernest Ojeh’s tweet: It is a well-executed idea.
Consider the Creative Possibilities
Heard of the Sickhouse? It’s the first feature-length film that was recorded entirely … you guessed it … on Snapchat. And musician Ingrid Michaelson recorded a music video back in April using the app, as well. So there’s a great possibility that film makers might sport Spectacles to produce more found footage-style films, as well as films that put the viewer into the center of the action. And with a price tag of $130, these novelty sunglass-styled recording devices may bring the barrier to entry down a bit for budding film makers who are willing to play around with the format.
But I Think I’ll Pass …
All that said … I’m not in love with Spectacles, and I think the reason why is summed up beautifully by this post from Tech Crunch titled “The hopes and headaches of Snapchat’s glasses”:
When something special happens, today most people bust out their phones rather than bask in the moment. Fans in the front row destroy their chance to connect with their rock star heroes by thrusting a phone between them. Then, people divorce themselves from the action while they stare down, editing their content with filters and captions before sharing.
Now, the Tech Crunch article does go on and say that between Snapchat’s Memories (which allows you to record, and then edit later) and Spectacles being on the viewer’s face “removing the foreign object of the phone from the capture process,” that there is an improvement over the phone “always out” phenomenon, but I still think recording via Spectacles takes you out of the moment.
Just because you’re not holding a phone out in front you doesn’t mean you’re entirely focused on the moment. Spectacles don’t record because your brain tells them to; you have to reach up and push a button to record 10 seconds of video, and if you want longer footage, keep tapping. That isn’t focus.
And do we really need to record every moment? My answer to that is I’m unsure. There’s power in being able to do so, but I also think there’s power in not.
All this said, I am curious about this wearable (due out “soon” in limited quantities), but I think I’ll let some diehard Snapchatters try them out first. I’ll be over here posting more Instagram Stories with my iPhone 6S, old-school style.