I won't mince words about Google Glass. It was a terrible product. It didn't really work right. And it was weird to think you would wear a computer on your head.
Snap, the company formerly known as Snapchat that now wants to be a camera company, has announced the new Spectacles glasses, and it's a product that makes more sense. Instead of reading your email through a head-word display and talking to your friends by video, the Spectacles work more like a normal camera for recording videos. It's the new GoPro, and it could be a major hit with Millennials.
Part of what makes the new Snap so interesting is the company has tapped into a younger demographic. If you want to enjoy a few minutes of hilarity, try to get someone in the Gen-X or Baby Boomer age group to play around with Snapchat. They won't get it. Not only is the interface intended for people who watch MTV and drink Red Bull by the case, it's not exactly useful or practical.
The Spectacles will arrive "soon" and come in three bright colors. It's not quite intended for skateboarders or extreme sports fanatics, but it has that same "explore the world, let people know what you find" vibe as the Pokemon Go app and Snapchat itself. What you're doing is really important, and selfies are getting old and boring, so how about wearing these glasses and sharing your experiences? The Spectacles tie directly into Snapchat over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi; they'll appeal to people who like bright colors, awkward interfaces, and artistic expression.
I'm also expecting the product to fly off the shelf. Google Glass was way too cumbersome, confusing, and lacking in obvious consumer application. (They might rebound someday as a business and industrial product for training and video-conferencing.) With the Spectacles, you slip on a pair of sunglasses, click a button, and start recording whatever you see. Simplicity is key with any new innovation. We barely understood why you'd wear Glass; the Spectacles will make sense to a fifth-grader. Maybe they'll even make a toddler version.
The transition to a camera company also makes sense. Anyone under 35 thinks, eats, breathes, and even sleeps with a photographic mindset. We're documenting our lives. If there's anything interesting in the world, people take a photo--group shots with friends, weird cars on the road, a plate of linguini at the local Italian place, your new shirt from Amazon. I'm guessing Snap has decided to refocus on what their demographic is constantly focusing on. That is a recipe for success.
Of course, there are drawbacks to the new hardware product. With an action camera, you can record the scene no matter what you're doing. With the Spectacles, the recording will only work when you wear the camera and look in a certain direction. Using them could become annoying pretty quickly, and there's no indication the glasses will last all day or if they're that durable or even waterproof.
Also, the glasses will record video for only ten seconds. Ten seconds! The 115-degree camera lens is "wide angle enough" but not exactly capable of capturing a mountain vista. To record, you'll tap the size of the goggles. There's no word about an exact ship date or how many photos you can, er, snap. Most outlets have said the price for the Spectacles will run $130. The Red Bull costs extra.