Snap extended the sale of its Spectacles into Europe this month, but already the company is working on a second version of the video-recording glasses which could be quite radical, according to a source with knowledge of the plans.
The first set of Spectacles went on sale last year and are priced at $129.99. They allow their owner to take photos and videos which can then be posted to the Snapchat service. The idea is to give users a way to create and share different types of content.
The second-generation project is closely guarded inside the company — to the point that few of Snap’s 1,800 staff are aware of the product’s details or when it will ship, another source told TechCrunch. What we do understand, however, that the next version is billed as being “quite different” to the first gen glasses, although it isn’t clear at this point exactly what that entails.
It seems increasingly likely that Spectacles II will ship with augmented reality features built in. A major clue came last month when a Snap patent application for AR glasses was discovered by Mashable. The filing, dated November 2015, details how Snap plans to use a dual-glass arrangement to sense a user’s location and then beam digital content into the space around them.
Snap’s app is already primed to support such a move. It recently rolled out an augmented reality feature — called World Lenses — in April which allows users to place digital objects around them. Unlike masks and filters, users can walk around the 3D objects which exist in their space when viewed through the Snapchat app for a limited time before disappearing.[gallery ids="1498841,1498842,1498843"]
Snap has long been linked with forays into different kinds of hardware beyond glasses, and that’s another reason why this filing is notable.
The patent filing makes reference to the potential for other products, including “an augmented reality helmet [and] an augmented reality visor.” Furthermore, Snap has been linked with drones after it bought small firm Ctrl Me and explored internal product options. It has also considered selling a 360 degree camera, as we reported earlier this year.
Despite this potential pipeline of differentiated hardware, our source suggested that, for now at least, Snap is working on releasing glasses as its follow-up to the original Spectacles.
Snap first began selling Spectacles last November via a single ‘Snapbot’ vending machine in its native Venice, California, and with precious little publicity. It expanded the Snapbots over the following months and made the glasses available to buy online in the U.S. in February.
While the device has captured the imagination of many, it hasn’t made a huge difference to Snap’s bottom line. The company hasn’t said how many it sold, but reading the tea leaves of its financials, we estimated that it shifted something in the region of 34,600 pairs in Q4 2016 and 63,800 pairs in the first quarter of 2017. That’s around $4.5 million and $8.3 million per quarter, respectively. Considering Snap’s business did $149.6 million in revenue in Q1 — with an overall loss of $2.2 billion — it isn’t all that much to shout about. Yet.