Snapchat gets into the smart glasses business
A lot of our employees are totally into Snapchat (see picture below). You’ve probably already heard about it, but just in case you haven’t, or you’ve simply never used it, here’s a little explanation on what it is all about.
Snapchat is an image messaging application software that was first released in September 2011 by four American students. The app operates on both the iOS and the Android system, it is available in 19 languages and takes up 25.8 MB of memory on your smartphone. Now Snapchat is supposedly building a pair of smart glasses that could give their users a whole new experience.
How does it work?
Snapchat is primarily used to create short videos or photos which are referred to as snaps, that can be edited to also include filters, effects, text captions, drawings and emoticons. In July 2014 a feature called “Geofilters” was introduced, which gives users the opportunity to add graphical overlays to their snaps, depending on which city or what event they are at. In September 2015 Snapchat introduced another feature that allows users to add real-time effects using face detection. The new features are always very easy to use; for example long-pressing on your face in the viewfinder activates the real-time effects.
Who do I send it to?
The snaps can be sent to friends that the user has added to his Snapchat profile or they can be put on the semi-public Snapchat story. They can be seen for a certain amount of time (up to 10 seconds) depending on how long the user wants their friends to see them. So basically the images or videos self-destruct after a few seconds. If one of the receivers takes a screenshot the sender will be notified and the receiver also has the ability to replay one snap per day.
A few facts and figures*:
- Snapchat’s audience is quite young; 13 to 34 year-olds love to use Snapchat.
- There are over 100 Million daily active Snapchatters and numbers keep growing.
- There are over 8 Billion video views every day on Snapchat, which means that Snapchat has already caught up to Facebook, who reached the 8 Billion mark November last year.
And what has all of that got to do with augmented reality and smart glasses?
Using your smartphone camera to create snaps is one thing but imagine Snapchatting with a pair of smart glasses on your face and seeing the discussed effects overlaid on your friends face in front of you for example.
Snapchat building a team of experts
According to CNET, Snapchat is recruiting experts in the field of wearables and they are assembling a team to work on some kind of smart eyewear device. Snapchat has never produced a physical product until now but based on some of the employees they have recently hired, you might think that they are working on their first piece of consumer hardware. People they have recently hired include Mark Dixon, former Microsoft recruiter, who worked on the HoloLens and the Xbox and Eitan Pilipski, who previously worked on Qualcomm’s Vuforia, which is a vision- based augmented reality software platform. Snapchat also has an eyewear designer on its team, Lauryn Morris. Before joining the Snapchat team in November 2014, she designed frames for Michael Kors and Zac Posen as well as for Innovega, a startup that created mixed-reality glasses. Another indicator that Snapchat is working on smart glasses is a current job posting looking for a 3D computer vision engineer.
Also in 2014 Snapchat bought Vergence Labs, a startup that built eyewear that records a video of what the person wearing the glasses is seeing and 5 out of 12 former Vergence employees are still working for Snapchat.
If Snapchat is really making a pair of smart glasses the company faces the same challenges as other smart eyewear manufacturers – building a pair of glasses that actually look stylish and are not too bulky and invasive to be used in public.
Of course we are not certain that Snapchat will actually make a set of smart glasses that will allow us to experience the effects on a whole other level, but nevertheless we will keep you updated on news in the field of augmented reality!
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*Source: Snapchat internal data
Image source: header photo © Adam Przezdziek