Do not look now, but the next computer platform is coming. It's not a phone, a laptop, or a miniputer you wear on your wrist. It will be glasses that turn the way you communicate upside down, find information, and see the world around you.
Want to take a look at this future? Take a look at Snap's Spectacles.
Hold. Glasses? The camera-ready sunglasses that got a weak reception when Snap released the first pair in 2016? Sure, they're specifically part of Snap's future and the self-proclaimed camera business in the fight against Facebook, Apple, Google and all the other companies arguing about the real estate in your face. But this is more than a hardware lark or gimmick to get people to post more content to Snapchat. With the introduction of the sequel to Spectacles, Snap sends a message: These glasses are not just our future. You are also your future.
OK, maybe not glasses, at least not in their current form. Spectacles 2.0 fall into the same pitfalls as Spectacles 1
The race for the first big pair of faces has already begun, with all the big tech companies fighting for supremacy. Whether the tech is used as an information tool, like Google Glass, or entertainment devices, like Facebook Oculus Rift, remains to be seen. But after a great deal of consensus, they will come in the form of eyewear and give you access to a whole new kind of computer. When this revolution comes, Snap wants to be at the forefront.
That's why eyewear is so important. They are not a magical leap, but in some ways they are even better: a product that you can actually wear on your face right now . The fact that their abilities are so simple – push a button, turn a video – might make them more palatable than a device that plunges into the deep end with voice controls, augmented reality, and a constantly active interface. Glasses will not change the way you see the world, but they could make the idea of a wearable face a little less crazy and prepare people for what's next. And the fact that they are in the wild makes it easier for Snap to understand how to design a product that you should always wear on your head. (It's not easy!) The company says it has completely redesigned the second version based on feedback from the beginning – it has replaced the entrails with a smaller battery and a better image processor and slimmed down the hardware to make it easier feels. The next version, which Snap is supposed to be working on, should be even better.
Snap can no longer rely on its core app to keep it relevant in the years to come. The cool factor of the app burns down for years; Competitors like Instagram are an existential threat. But Snapchat has evolved into more than just an ephemeral messaging app in the seven years since its launch. Here you will learn how to take a selfie and love augmented reality. It's still the most reliable way to take a great picture, with some of the best camera software on your phone. It takes a way to get it all over the app so that people can take pictures and videos and continue to play in their augmented reality worlds, even if they do not release a snap story. One way to do that? Give users a new way to interact with this software outside of a messaging app. Like a real camera.
One day in the future, Spectacles will not be silly glasses with technicolor frames. They will be a sophisticated computer platform: one that captures videos better than a GoPro brings the dancing hot dog to life before your eyes and makes it a little easier to leave your cell phone behind. It seems to be widely used, but Snap is already working on building the next computer platform, with separate parts of the company developing the hardware and software that will converge to make the next big thing. "Over the next decade, the way these parts fit together is likely to be what makes our company," said Spiegel this week to Jessi Hempel of WIRED. For example, hardware glasses could take Snap's investment in augmented reality to a new level.
Snap dreams of this future for a long time, even before they officially dropped the name "chat". In 2017, a patent was filed for some type of augmented reality goggles that seamlessly merges the digital and the physical world. Of course, a patent is not a product roadmap; Apple and Facebook have also filed patents for AR glasses. But none of these companies has introduced hardware that comes close to AR glasses. Snap is already in its second edition.
Snap could not be at the forefront of the portable war. But just as it paved the way for a new kind of social media with ephemeral "stories" and teaching the Internet to love AR with its lenses, Snap does something important with Spectacles: it teaches people how to put computers on their faces wearing. As with all of Snap's great ideas, it's only a matter of time before the rest of the industry copies them.
The Future of Faceputers