These sunglasses with built-in camera are Snapchat’s answer to Google’s widely mocked and creepy eyewear

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 September, 2016, 4:26pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 September, 2016, 10:34pm

Snapchat said it will release a wearable gadget called Spectacles, which resembles a pair of sunglasses with a built-in camera for shooting video. A limited supply of the product will be sold this fall for US$130.

Spectacles will come in one size and three colours. The wearer can tap a button near the hinge to record video of up to 10 seconds using the wide-angle lens on the glasses.

The product represents the first foray into consumer electronics for the startup behind the popular messaging app. The Los Angeles company, valued at $18 billion by investors this year, said it will change its name to Snap Inc., reflecting its larger ambitions.

Snap said Spectacles captures video in a new circular format that can be viewed full screen whether holding a phone upright or on its side. The device transmits the recordings wirelessly to a smartphone. It is similar in some ways to Google Glass, a widely mocked wearable device from Alphabet Inc with its potentially always-on, inconspicuous camera that many people found to be creepy.

Evan Spiegel, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Snap, has been testing a prototype of the glasses since at least early 2015. Snap posted a promotional video for Spectacles on YouTube and is expected to show off the gadget in New York this week. 

Spectacles, expected to be in limited supply when they hit the market, would put pressure on GoPro, whose mini-cameras are designed to let people capture video of endeavours from personal perspectives.

GoPro recently unveiled new Hero5 cameras, a drone called Karma and a cloud-based service for editing and sharing video in the hope of lifting profits, which have been battered by competition from all sides.

GoPro became an early hit with extreme sports enthusiasts who used the mini-cameras to film their exploits, and went on to win over teens and young adults interested in sharing videos on YouTube and social networks.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse