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Snapchat launches video-recording sunglasses, announces rebranding

Los Angeles-based Snapchat will soon release sunglasses with a built-in camera as the company rebrands itself as Snap. Inc.

The product, named Spectacles, features a video camera that can record 10-second clips. The clips can be sent to smartphones and uploaded to Snapchat via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

It is the first hardware product sold by the company, triggering the change in name because the company is going beyond its popular Snapchat app.

“Snap Inc. is a camera company,” Snap Inc. proclaims on its website. “We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.”

The website goes on to say its products “empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.”

How will Spectacles do that? Snap, Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel told the Wall Street Journal that Spectacles will shoot video from a first-person vantage point. Snap, Inc. states in its website’s news feed that the camera features a 115 degree field of view, wider than what’s usually seen on smartphones and closer to the perspective that your eyes naturally see. It also records circular video, again closer your own vision.

“We’ve created one of the smallest wireless video cameras in the world, capable of taking a day’s worth of Snaps on a single charge, and we integrated it seamlessly into a fun pair of sunglasses,” stated Snap, Inc. on its website.

Spectacles will stop recording automatically after 10 seconds but subsequent taps will extend time up to 30 seconds. You will know when you’re shooting vide by a light that you can see on your side while an outward-facing light lets others know you are shooting video.

If you don’t have your smartphone with you, you can save the videos on the Spectacles and download them when you get to your phone.

The glasses will cost about $130 USD. That’s far less than Google Glass, which sold for closer to $1,500 before Google stopped developing the glasses. The low price tag may help Spectacles sell better, but only a limited supply is expected to be sold. Spiegel in his interview with the Wall Street Journal referred to it as a toy.

At the same time it hints that Snap, Inc. may have bigger plans for the future. The launch gives Snap its first official product and moves beyond the popular photo and messaging app.

Snapchat, meanwhile, continues to see increasing popularity. It is the third most popular social app among millennials, lagging only behind Instagram and Facebook. Research firm eMarketer estimates that those users born between 1981 and 2000 make up 70 percent of Snapchat’s monthly U.S. users in 2016. An eMarketer report estimates, however, that its usage among other generations will increase.

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