What You Need To Know About Snapchat Spectacles

by Eliza Castile

As part of your daily reminder that we live in The Future, everyone's favorite ephemeral photo-sharing app has finally revealed Snapchat Spectacles, sunglasses with tiny, wireless cameras built into the frame for recording and sharing short video clips. At the same time, the company also announced a name change from Snapchat to Snap Inc. as part of a general rebrand. "Now that we are developing other products, like Spectacles, we need a name that goes beyond just one product," Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel explained in a blog post.

So what's the big deal with Spectacles? Aside from being Snap Inc.'s first hardware product, they're like a cooler, far more fashionable version of Google Glass. According to the Wall Street Journal, Spectacles are activated by tapping the frame, which prompts them to begin recording first-person video up to 10 seconds long. Each time you tap, a new clip begins. While you're recording, a ring of LED lights on one side lights up, so other people can see that you're taking a video. These clips are then wirelessly uploaded to your Snapchat Memories.

The videos are designed to mimic human vision; the cameras capture a 115 degree field of view, and the recordings themselves are circular. According to Spiegel, at least, the result is akin to reliving an experience. "I could see my own memory, through my own eyes — it was unbelievable. ... It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again," he told the Journal, describing footage from a hike he had taken with now-fiancee Miranda Kerr.

Spectacles will come in one size but three colors: Teal, black, or coral. According to the announcement, the battery life should last a full day. Snap Inc. hasn't announced an exact release date yet, but they're slated for this fall.

Until they hit shelves, there's no telling whether Spectacles will be a success or go the way of Google Glass. It would be easy to dismiss them as unnecessary at best — who needs video-recording glasses when you can just hold a smartphone? — and dorky at worst, but keep in mind that people complained about Snapchat initially, too. Today, the app is hugely popular, and it's worth around $18 billion. Besides, Spectacles have one thing going for them that Google Glass never did: A surprisingly cute design.

Given how much Snapchat has already changed the way we communicate, who knows? This time next year, Spectacles could be as ubiquitous as Snapchat itself — we'll have to wait and see.