Snap, Inc., the company behind Snapchat, has announced a new model of AR glasses. For now, the so-called ‘Spectacles’ are only available to developers.
This is the 4th generation of the glasses. They are still largely in their primary phase. Developers are to help test them and create new filters using the Lens Studio software – the same technology that Snapchat uses.
The company has listed a few new features on its official website, including a touchpad, two RGB cameras, and four microphones. Users will also be able to share the experience with friends, who also own Spectacles.
The waveguide optical displays provide 2,000 nits of brightness per lens. This makes them ideal for viewing bright, outdoor imagery clearly without any loss of image quality.
The glasses are powered by the Snap Spatial Engine, for advanced surface, hand, and marker tracking. You can see a demo on the company’s Twitter account.
Not Market-Ready Yet
Snap, Inc. says that the Spectacles are still a long way off from being ready to hit the shelves.
One of the main reasons is the battery life – it lasts only 30 minutes of continuous use.
Engineers are also still trying to work out some of the basic principles of optics, such as étendue i.e. how the light hits the lenses and how it is spread out through them. The glasses also have a really limited field of view.
The company is investing $3.5 million into creating software for the devices. Developers can apply for funding through a grant system that will allow them to create, test, and implement the new tech.
The Future of AR
Augmented Reality has long been the new ‘holy grail’ of the tech world. Large-scale companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple have all been trying to develop their own unique approach to the technology
While Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel claims that AR headsets won’t necessarily replace the cellphone as we know it today, Apple CEO Tim Cook takes a different stance.
He called them “critically important” in a conversation with a New York Times reporter. Mark Zuckerberg also supports this.
Both agree, however, that it’s not likely we’ll see these devices hitting the shelves in the next decade or so.