Snap goes up-market for its latest Spectacles

The third generation of the social media company's wearable adds 3D and AR features in addition to being more fashion-forward.

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Snap has announced the impending release of the third version of its Spectacles smart glasses, adding capabilities familiar to its user base to a design meant to appeal to more high-fashion sensibilities.

The new Spectacles model will come in two different frame designs, each featuring fashion-forward designs available in black or pink. The glasses also sell for $380 USD, more than double the price of the second generation Spectacles.

spactaclesAside from the more ambitious design, the other notable thing about the new Spectacles is that it features dual cameras. This gives the glasses 3D capabilities, which will also allow wearers to use the augmented reality (AR) filters, effects and animations the popular social platform, Snapchat, is known for to videos recorded with the glasses. Parent co., Snap, is also providing a Google Cardboard-like 3D viewer with every pair, so videos created by those wearing the viewer, or those uploaded by others, can be viewed in 3D. AR has not only been a defining feature of the Snapchat platform’s capabilities, but one of the main ways it keeps audiences engaged.

The latest Spectacles are available now for pre-order and are expected to ship in the fall.

The approach to the third-generation Spectacles put Snap further down a path towards making its glasses a more style-friendly accessory. The first version of Spectacles resulted in a $40 million loss for the company due to unsold inventory. With its second generation, Snap opted to make the glasses slightly more stylish and produced a more limited number, with a further two limited-edition designs released that made them look even more like frames that would be bought in a boutique, instead of say given away for free at a music festival.

While interest in smart glasses has waned after Google stopped selling consumer versions of Google Glass amid low demand, other companies have shown interest in the category. Last year, wearables company Thalymic Labs relaunched its business, rebranding as North and moving its focus entirely to Focals, its new pair of smart glasses that aimed to position them more as an exclusive fashion product than a mass tech one (while the product itself has been well-reviewed, North has not released sales figures for Focals, which went on sale earlier this year, but it did cut its price by nearly half in February and laid off 150 staff).

During Apple’s developers conference this year, a number of developer tools focused on AR restarted rumours that the company was working on its own pair of smart glasses, with the latest reports saying they’ll be released some point in 2020.

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