Less than a month ago, Snapchat launched their first physical product, a wearable piece of tech called “Spectacles”. These spectacles are kind of like a very simplified Google Glass/GoPro hybrid, packaged as a pair of jazzy sunglasses. And they are making some serious waves.
These Spectacles cost a fraction of what Google Glass retailed for, and their purpose has been dramatically simplified. With Spectacles you have the benefit of a first person camera without mounting a weird antenna on your head. So you can capture all your adventures on the go, and look cool(ish) while doing it.
Part of the success of Spectacles must be attributed to the fact that they really aren’t taking themselves too seriously. Spectacles are designed to be a quirky thing to wear: they’re multicoloured, inexpensive ($130 a pair) and have been advertised as a novelty (of sorts). Really they’re just an exciting wearable object that is cool because it will give you the chance to take pictures and share snap stories in a hybrid way!
That’s a dramatically different approach than the Google approach with Glass, which made impersonal sunglasses that looked nearly normal, hiding the camera in the bridge of the glasses. Not too mention all the additional AR functionality that Google Glass promised to deliver, and which ultimately proved clunky and well, disappointing at best.
Functionality aside, the entire Spectacles approach to market was just a fresh and disruptive take on strategy in the space and frankly made Google’s first pass at this look, wooden and dull
The Tech world wasn’t sent pre-launch Spectacles to review and feedback on, and they’re not available in stores. Instead, pop-up dispensers have become the only way that early adopters can line up and grab a pair to try. And line up they do.
A single yellow “Snapbot” vending machine emerged in Los Angeles and other scenic and adventurous locations – Another perfect nuance from Snap, guiding the stories that these early Snap influencers would produce with their pre-launch spectacles (well done guys!)
Now Snapbot is moving around the country to undisclosed locations. People had to wait for hours to buy one before the supply ran out. If you want to get your hands on a pair of Spectacles today, they’re retailing for $4,500 on eBay. This scarcity and buzz has been a huge boost for Snap Inc., and while they’re probably not turning a profit on this venture, all this attention is definitely a good thing as they are poised to launch their first IPO. Not too shabby Snapchat!
So what do Spectacles mean for the world of wearable tech? Well for thing, they demonstrate that from the ashes of the failed Google Glass attempt, new wearable strategies are resonating with a new demographic. The youthful early millennial crowd. Snap used timing (hybrid reality of Pokemon Go didn’t hurt), scarcity and targeting to create an absolutely perfect Spectacle launch. I wonder if Google marketed Glass in a similar fashion, whether we’d have been captivated… Who knows
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And now that they have arrived, these consumer technologies have begun entering the workplace and it looks like they are here to stay!
Here are some key trends for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in the workplace, some of which have already started to change many businesses’ ecosystems.
Flight simulators have been around for decades now, and are becoming ever more sophisticated as a way of putting pilots through their paces. However, improved VR is potentially a great way of simulating all sorts of workplace training experiences — from public speaking to helping engineers “fix” broken machinery to carrying out surgery.
One of the most exciting ways VR could be used is in R&D — from architecture, to urban design to automobiles and anything else. Virtual reality will allow designers to iterate and try out hundreds of variations on a product, discover weaknesses and faults early on and save money.
Virtual reality promises the possibility that colleagues will no longer have to spend 12 hours on a plane when working together on projects. VR will make it really feel like you are working together, allowing you to join and participate in meetings in a far more lifelike way than via VoIP.
Stores will be able to optimize floor and shelf design of supermarkets and other kinds of retail environments. By experimenting with different ways of placing products around the store, floor planners will get a much better idea of how to design and layout their stores. Conferences, sport events and plenty of other customer-facing experiences could also benefit from this approach.
Therapy and Treatment
VR offers great potential for helping people overcome traumatic experiences and phobias by immersing them in a “safe” environment which they can control with help from a professional, before facing their fears.
Space is expensive. So imagine a virtual showroom, hundreds of miles long, where you could examine any products you want in different colors, shapes and sizes. VR could potentially help sales people in the design of everything from your new bathroom to choosing the ideal paint for your bedroom walls or even the holiday of a lifetime.
VR and Mixed Realities hold the potential of impacting how we will work in future. While you may not be wearing your Spectacles at work, they signify that wearables are on going through a resurrgence. Propelled back into the tech agenda by Snap and their savvy strategy of understanding and capitvating their youth demographic. This is only the start of things to come in this area of innovation. And you can expect to find it in your office very soon.
Tell us your thoughts on Snapchat and Wearables in the comments below!