At the Snap Partner Summit 2021, the company behind the widely used mobile application Snapchat unveiled its fourth-generation augmented reality (AR) glasses.
These AR glasses are the latest to come out of Snap’s ‘Spectacles’ line, the earlier versions of which had no capacity for AR. This time around, however, the camera-slash-social media company wants in on the growing opportunities of extended reality (XR) creation, coinciding with other tech giants’ AR- and VR-based projects.
But what’s different about Snap’s new AR glasses? And why can’t you buy them? We answer these puzzling questions and more in this article.
What’s Up with the New Spectacles?
Unlike the previous Snap glasses, at the core of the fourth-generation Spectacles is AR experiences. And unlike XR headsets similar to Spectacles — such as Microsoft’s Hololens, Financial Times reports — it’s super lightweight and portable.
Financial Times also juxtaposed Snap’s AR glasses with Facebook’s vision for an AR headset and wristband input device pairing. While the Facebook team is looking into a wristband as the way to control the graphical elements in the AR device, Spectacles gives users direct control by interacting with the AR glasses themselves.
But is there anything else about the new Snap AR glasses that makes them unique and different?
Some Features of the Snap AR Glasses & Why It’s Not For Sale
For one, the Snap AR glasses’ design presently caters to creators rather than consumers. Earlier, we mentioned the glasses aren’t for sale. The reason is this — Snap is giving their glasses away exclusively to AR innovators.
With the way Snap designed its AR glasses, you can see how it might not be ready for end-users just yet. Instead, these glasses appear to be geared toward non-extensive use and testing. Take a look at the battery life — it lasts for only 30 minutes!
So far, the AR creators Snap has partnered with — who have already done exciting work, including poetry popping up and floating wherever you walk — can create AR experiences on Snap’s Lens Studio software and then migrate them to the glasses.
Besides being able to create AR experiences, the chosen innovators and developers also get to record their work in video or image format in real-time, just like with the previous Spectacles. And the captured media is shareable on Snapchat.
Additionally, because it is lightweight, these creators can go around in any location (provided they follow protocols for COVID-19), capture their augmented reality work in action, and share it immediately after. Seriously, the glasses resemble the retro 3D shades we use to view IMAX 3D films. There is so much technology going on in the small device, and you can control it using voice and gestures.
By tapping on the glasses once, you can command them to launch a Lens experience, creator and Snap partner Don Allen Stevenson III says in a Youtube video. A downward swipe lets you exit the experience, he adds.
Why Are Snap’s AR Glasses Available to Creators Only?
While the glasses are sparking interest among Snapchat users and the general public, it’s not for sale — perhaps just yet. According to several sources, Snap has teamed up with creators so they can co-develop the new device, which effortlessly pairs with the Snapchat app and Lens Studio.
Whether or not this same approach will be made available to end-users or will be exclusively available to AR creators is unclear now. But what is certain is Snap’s central vision for their AR glasses is geared for content creation, Wired says.
According to the American news site, today’s tech giants have different approaches to XR. Google’s is to “index the world’s information”, while Facebook’s primary focus is social VR. Their target audience seems to be clear — end-users. And if Snap’s goal is the same, as well as to widen its reach, they might make this available to the public in the future in a user-friendly way.
What Snap AR Glasses Mean For XR Creators
With the growing number of advanced social and tech platforms, digital creatives have found more and more avenues to publicize their work. Creators in the XR niche are no different. And with Snap’s new version of the Spectacles, they can build more immersive experiences. Even beyond the capacity of physical tools and materials.
There’s a lot of experimentation XR creators can do with the new Snap AR glasses. For example, an XR creator engaged in making art can now utilize space to enhance people’s experience with their piece. And should Snap make their AR glasses available to end-users, people no longer have to take out their phones and access an application. It’s as if AR-based art is already a part of their immediate surroundings.
Some Opportunities Snap AR Glasses Can Give Creators
Since creators have free rein over what they can build and showcase on the Spectacles, they can pursue the interesting and interactive field of video gaming.
There are extra elements game creators can manipulate with the Snap AR glasses, such as the hands-free feature of the device and the display’s broader view.
In a way, the user’s experience becomes much closer to feeling real as it is no longer mediated by their smartphones. Many AR possibilities have yet to be explored, which makes this an interesting area for Snap AR creators to get into.
One of Snap’s creators, Leighton McDonald, who is a spatial interaction designer, has made use of the glasses to showcase artwork by black artists.
With the technology in the AR Snap glasses, underrepresented creatives can make their pieces available and viewable to a larger group. Plus, users can experience these pieces without needing to hold anything, which can be a little freeing compared to an experience that requires handheld devices to display the augmented reality art.
“Now, I can walk around and actually see what I’m capturing and get cool shots to share with my friends,” the artist says in a video.
Experiential learning, or a hands-on approach to learning, merges education with experience. Several studies have shown how 3D digital art enhances a student’s understanding of a subject, even when it’s as complex as human anatomy. Imagine learners being able to engage with the subject.
With AR glasses, students and general learners can view subjects in a more engaging light. They can see how certain things work in real-time and as though they were happening before their eyes. If the AR creator partnered with Snap likes to explore different ways to conduct learning, this is a game-changing opportunity for them.
Snap has upped its ante in the field of tech with a new pair of AR glasses. However, these fourth-generation Spectacles glasses are not available to the public. Instead, AR and XR creators can sign up on Snap’s website to partner with the company. Through this partnership, they can build new AR experiences using the glasses and Snap’s Lens Studio software.
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