What it’s like to use Snapchat Spectacles

Snap’s Spectacles are having a spectacular debut today, with (at least) hundreds of people lining up at their first Snapbot pop-up vending machine location in Venice Beach. We got the chance to speak to a few of those lucky enough to have grabbed some today, and they told us what it’s like to use the clip capturing face wear.

Jameson Detweiler, co-founder and CEO of AR startup Fantasmo.io, shared his pics and video of what it’s like to buy Spectacles from Snapchat’s adorable vending bot, and also shared some of this thoughts with TC about using them via email:

So I’m not a huge Snapchat user, but I’m building an AR startup, so clearly I need to be playing with these. And they’re a blast. I actually think this is going to get me to use Snapchat more.

They’re about as simple as possible. You pair them with your iPhone over Bluetooth. Just point them at the QR code on your phone. Then you give them a name. Once that’s done, put them on, tap the button, and it records 10 seconds of video. The LED lights spin while you’re recording. HD video requires you to set up wifi to import.

Specs has a dedicated button on the camera screen underneath the main photo button. Tapping it takes you to the Specs section of Memories. Everything syncs up pretty quickly (in SD over Bluetooth). You can pick a Story and then edit it with stickers, 3D stickers, text, etc. It doesn’t look like you can do any Lenses, including World Lenses, which makes sense because those are activated before you shoot on the regular Snapchat.

The circular video is super cool. Being able to rotate your phone and see more is pretty awesome.

Johnny Martin, an LA-based cameraman, found setup and use equally easy, and had the following thoughts about Spectacle’s potential now and in the future:

So [Spectacles are] extremely easy to use –  press a button and it records. It feels like it will be second nature for people who wear them consistently. There’s no friction, very simple.

Watching the footage back just feels like watching a memory because of the wide-angle lens. It’s similar to a GoPro (obviously lower resolution), but it also removes the camera from being in front of what you are looking at. So in a way, you get more of the real experience and it removes the phone from being in front of your face, too.

If you’re at a concert or the beach or wherever, there is nothing between you and the moment. Friction is gone, and the moment is much more raw and real, which has always lent itself better to Snapchat vs. Instagram, etc.

Snap is smart to have made it a toy and relatively affordable. Even on their Twitter account they are retweeting people making fun of it. They’re keeping it light, not taking themselves seriously (look at the vending machine for the Spectacles) and just having fun. That removes any stigma, as it should be about fun anyway – which is where Google Glass failed in part.

The potential of the tech is what is really fascinating: imagine an iteration or two from now where the camera is always recording and buffering and you press the button to save what you just saw. You don’t always have a camera on you to capture moments that happen or it’s too late by the time you pull your phone out, but in theory you could always just press a button to lock down a moment.

These buffers exist in cameras used for news/documentaries/etc. That hardware basically just has a set amount of storage that constantly records (if you have the setting turned on), and when whatever moment happens you’re waiting to capture, you just press record and it’s saved. That could lead some to picture to the scary dystopian future often seen in movies, of cameras everywhere recording everything all the time, but in reality i think we are probably headed in that direction regardless.

Spectacles are designed as a toy and made for fun, and that’s the way a lot of good tech starts out. Time will tell how much they stick, but the way Snap seems to be handling this rollout feels good. They aren’t taking themselves too seriously and that makes people more comfortable with the product and their vision as a camera company.

Martin’s appraisal of Snap’s approach to this rollout is spot on; it’s keeping everything about the product, from design, to use, to distribution, light and breezy. It’s on brand and it’s a clever and decidedly fresh way to do a hardware product launch in the era of the grand Apple keynote.

We’ll have more first-hand impressions of Spectacles coming up shortly, but for now it sounds like the company did what it set out to do pretty nicely.