Formerly Snapchat, the company Snap Inc. has unveiled its first hardware product: Spectacles. These glasses have a camera, indicator light, and are ultimately meant to do what Snapchat already does, but on an entirely new level. Spectacles can capture moments the way you see them since they’re around your eyes. They record 10 seconds of photos that can instantly and wirelessly upload to your Snapchat.
At first, this seems cool and it is. It’s impressive to fit a camera, light, plus wireless connectivity into glasses. But it doesn’t take long to figure out the number of substantial issues Spectacles could and probably will face once Snap releases them into the wild. A great piece of technology is little to nothing without good design and a clear problem to solve.
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Spectacles are a Privacy Nightmare
Remember the Google Glass incident? I’m reminded of the story when someone was kicked out of a bar for wearing Google Glass. I can see Spectacles resulting in a very similar occurrence.
Just imagine how uncomfortable people would feel at the beach if someone was wearing Spectacles.
At a time when people are particularly sensitive about privacy, I don’t see Spectacles exactly easing anyone’s minds. The fact that a tiny camera is now prominently on glasses frames is a little creepy, don’t you think? I’m not sure that I’d feel particularly safe walking by someone with a camera on their glasses. Just imagine how uncomfortable people would feel at the beach if someone was wearing Spectacles.
People are going to be afraid that they’re being secretly filmed or just uneasy that forever reason someone is documenting their surroundings. If Spectacles eventually hit the masses as a recognizable product, this issue won’t be so prominent, but the road to get there is extremely hazardous.
They Solve a Problem That Doesn’t Exist
Is ten seconds of video from glasses that you could capture with your already expensive phone worth spending more cash?
It’s a cool concept to be able to film exactly what you are seeing, but likely just a novelty. So many people are constantly checking or actively using their smartphones anyway that it’s almost effortless to whip it out and start recording, especially for Snapchat. Maybe the footage isn’t from eye-level, but it’s still capturing something you’re also experiencing.
That’s the main problem with Spectacles: they don’t solve any real problem. They’re just a wearable piece of technology that costs customers money. After they spend that money — whatever the price ends up being — they get to do pretty much the same thing they were already capable of doing for free with Snapchat. Is ten seconds of video that you could capture with your already expensive phone worth spending more cash and having to wear an accessory all the time? Personally, I don’t think so.
To add fuel to the flame, Spectacles will only further our disconnect between experiencing moments and frantically trying to make memories out of them.
Based on the images, these aren’t exactly high fashion and that is a problem. Wearables need to be high-fashion. If the Apple Watch was ugly and had boring straps, no one would buy one or proudly wear one, regardless of what amazing technology Apple managed to pack into it. Spectacles are no different. They need to look good and right now, they don’t. They look like weird toys you might see a kid wear to feel like a secret agent.
Luckily, the looks are the easiest part of Spectacles that Snap can improve. The company can tweak the design to make the camera bigger or smaller, the frames more classy or playful, so on and so forth. To start, I think the camera for one should be much less prominent for the first reason I outlined. People can’t feel unsafe if they don’t know the camera is there in the first place.