Snapchat Unveils Smart Sunglasses, Rebrands as Snap Inc.

Snapchat Specs - H 2016
Courtesy of Snapchat

Spectacles, which each record 10 seconds of video, is Snapchat's first foray into hardware.

Snapchat's past might be all about the ephemeral, but its future is apparently the physical. 

The Venice Beach-based company, founded as an app for disappearing photos, is prepping the launch of a pair of smart sunglasses called Spectacles. Tapping on the glasses will record 10 seconds of video — shot by a 115-degree-angle lens — additional taps will add more time up to 30 seconds continuous. Spectacles will be connected wirelessly to a smart phone and can be saved in Snapchat Memories, where users can store a collection of photos and videos for repeat use.

The company, which has rebranded as Snap Inc. to encompass its efforts beyond the mobile app space, will sell Spectacles for $130 in three colors — black, teal or coral. That's significantly cheaper than the $1,500 price point for Google Glass, the search giant's wearable device that used voice commands that it has since stopped producing. 

But while Spectacles, nicknamed Specs, could eventually turn Snap into a wearables competitor or push it into the augmented reality space (the company is reported to have acquired AR company Seene this summer), for now CEO Evan Spiegel, announcing Spectacles in a feature with WSJ Magazine, is referring to the device as a toy, noting that "we're going to take a slow approach to rolling them out. It's about us figuring out if it fits into people's lives and seeing how they like it." 

Snap, founded in 2011 while Spiegel was still a student at Stanford University, has grown significantly beyond its roots as an app for disappearing photos. It now offers 24-hour public streams, called Stories, and has a platform for publishers and entertainment brands, Discover, that refreshes each day. The company, which famously rebuked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $3 billion acquisition offer, has also made a number of acquisitions to build out its product offerings, including emoji-maker Bitstrips. Today, Snap has 150 million daily active users and is valued at around $16 billion.

Snap has been rumored to be working on a glasses product for some time. Earlier on Friday, Business Insider published clips from a leaked advertisement for Spectacles that showed someone recording a kid's birthday party from the first-person point of view. The video was later taken down. Billboards of the company's ghost mascot wearing the glasses have already begun to appear in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

7:55 a.m. Updated with additional information from Snap's blog post about Spectacles.