Snapchat Spectacles
Image: Snap Inc official website

Augmented reality (AR) is the future, and Santa Monica-based Snap Inc. is catching on to the trend, looking to include it in its product portfolio as it extends beyond its popular messaging platform Snapchat. The company announced the next generation of Spectacles, which will incorporate AR technology to create ways for users to interact with their environment using AR. The Spectacles will let creators “overlay their Lenses directly onto the world, exploring new ways to fuse fun and utility through immersive AR.”

“Today, we’re introducing the next generation of Spectacles, our first pair of glasses that bring augmented reality to life. They’re lightweight display glasses, made for creators to overlay their Lenses directly onto the world, exploring new ways to fuse fun and utility through immersive AR,” Snap said in an official statement as it announced the arrival of Spectacles in the Snap Partner Summit 2021.

However, do not expect to see them on the market, because Snap has made it clear that the Spectacles will not be available commercially and are exclusively for AR creators “to re-imagine the way we communicate, live, and explore the world together through AR experiences built-in Lens Studio.”

The mechanism is simple – Spectacles tap into the human senses of sight, touch, and sound to “bring Lenses to life,” adding the right elements and filters based on where the user is present. The users can project Snapchat Lenses to real-life surroundings through dual 3D waveguide displays and a 2.63-degree field of view, giving them a whole new view of the world around them. Spectacles, weighing only 134g and running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR1 AR and VR processor, are powered by Snap’s new Snap Spatial Engine, which “leverages six degrees of freedom and hand, marker and surface tracking.” Equipped with 2 RGB cameras, 4 built-in microphones, 2 stereo speakers, and a touchpad to provide a multi-sensorial experience, they contain a display that can be adjusted up to 2000 Nits of brightness to explore AR indoors or outside. The Spectacles can last 30 minutes on a single charge.

The front-facing cameras can help the glasses detect objects and surfaces. Users can even control these using voice commands. According to Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, Spectacles are also capable of fully integrating with Lens Studio, the company’s desktop application for developers to build 3D and AR Lenses. Lens creators will now be able to “wirelessly push their lenses to Spectacles directly for rapid testing and iteration,” and build these in real-time.

The touchpad launches the Lens Carousel. The button on the right activates “Scan,” which determines the field of view and suggests relevant Lenses (Creators can use the “Voice Scan” to perform the same operation.) The left button captures 10-second Snaps of Lenses overlaid on the world, so creators can send Snaps right from Spectacles.

Is this the next level of AR? With technology advancing by the day, who knows what else the future has in store?