Snap, the maker of Snapchat, is still trying to make its Spectacles happen. This time, though, there’s a new plan: Glasses that record things and upload them to the disappearing photo app, but make it fashion.
The first two generations of Snap’s glasses, which resembled disposable 3D movie glasses, have been updated for the fashun crowd. Spectacles 3 feature what Vogue describes as a “Sleeker and Chicer” design, and debuted today (Aug. 13) in the magazine’s coveted September issue.
Rather than chunky, Lego-colored plastic, Spectacles 3 are made in the steampunk style, à la Roger Stone, that’s been ubiquitous this summer. As Vogue notes: “Sleeker, slimmer, and made in lightweight stainless steel, they signal the company’s move into elevated design. The style—exaggerated round lenses with a brow bar across the top—comes in just two minimal hues: matte black (the Carbon) and rose gold (the Mineral).” The glasses are available for preorder from today for $380, more than double the cost of the original Spectacles ($150) and quite a bit pricier than Spectacles 2 ($200). Unlike the last model, these new ones also aren’t water-resistant.
Like the first two runs of Spectacles, released in 2016 and 2018 respectively, this version allows users to capture consecutive videos in 60 seconds intervals (up from 10) by tapping a button on the glasses. Videos automatically upload and save into the Snapchat app. The new models also feature a second camera that adds depth to images, allowing users to capture things in 3D. Ultimately, this feature will allow users the same augmented reality functionality as the Snapchat app, which lets them do things like add dog ears or funny hats to people or objects camera is trained on.
The first two iterations of Spectacles flopped. In 2017, shortly after the much-hyped rollout of first-gen Spectacles, The Information reported that hundreds of thousands of unsold glasses were sitting in a Chinese warehouse. The company says it sold only 220,000 pairs, and the result was $40 million in sunk costs. What’s more, TechCrunch noted that internal Snap data showed less than 50% of buyers continued using the glasses a month after purchasing them. For Spectacles 2, Snap told TechCrunch that owners were capturing 40% more videos than the owners of the first version had.
The ultimate goal of Spectacles, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel tells Vogue, is “computing overlaid on the world.” But as the magazine points out, the ability to record videos—that are automatically saved—resembles the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You.” In the story, characters, through a sort of high-tech contact lens implant, are able to relive their own memories at will, and view others’ as easily as scrolling through their iPhone photo reel. Predictably, the consequences are dire. Snapchat’s original platform was premised on sending disappearing messages to people, but increasingly the app is finding new ways to get users to store their snaps and share them with the world.