Snapchat joins the Bluetooth SIG, fueling hardware speculation

Snapchat has given observers another reason to suspect it might be working on hardware – the social network company joined the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) according to the Financial Times. The SIG industry association maintains the Bluetooth wireless standard, and membership is a necessary prerequisite for companies that want to employ Bluetooth in any hardware devices.

Snapchat is an “adopter” in the SIG, which is a free tier that provides member companies with a license to build Bluetooth-enabled products, and to work with other Bluetooth SIG makers on collaborative efforts. AS the FT notes, the only cure for companies to join the SIG, generally speaking, is if they intend to actually launch a wireless device.

Other companies dealing primarily in software are members of the SIG, however, including Facebook. But Facebook has dabbled in hardware previously, including with a project last year where it offered free Bluetooth beacons to business owners as part of a wireless, location-based ambient advertising push.

Snapchat’s own hardware plans including Bluetooth tech might be more ambitious; the FT report notes that it has recently done a lot to suggest an interest in augmented reality hardware, including the acquisition of AR headset startup Vergence Lab, recent hires and a number of acquisitions in computer vision and AR software. A report earlier this year suggested Snapchat might already have begun developing a pair of smart glasses, potentially similar to Google Glass.

Snapchat has good reason to be interested in AR as a category; its smartphone app is scene by many as one of the most successful existing examples of consumer AR, mainly through the use of their image filters, which can be applied to live video captured by a user’s device camera.