I wanted to hate them.
The idea seems abhorrent and ludicrous and they look comical. Every part of me detests the premise of them yet inescapable truth is that I love the new snapchat spectacles. They are surprising and playful. They capture the imagination and will inspire the demographic most likely to utilise the service, which is essential. Effectively they have purpose. They are the antithesis of google glass which took itself too seriously and had no real defined use case at inception. They were a novelty whereas spectacles make snapchat more efficient and easier to use.
How ironic is it that a teal pair of glasses with video feedback enabled external lenses seem like less of a novelty than an entirely serious product like google glass.
My major concern was with filming others who were oblivious to their plight and the potential criminality of such. As mentioned, they solve the problem through video feedback with is simultaneously visually stunning and honest. Transparency is the essential necessity which ensures trust and trust is the currency which enables wider adoption. The voyeuristic element has been alleviated through design.
Most importantly they remove friction. Do they even need to serve any other function? The main sticking point with snapchat is having to pull out your phone, unlock it, load the app then press record while watching the action unfold through the screen instead of with your eyes. Now you just watch and shoot. It is so simple that anyone can do it instantly. And you don’t miss a thing. And you record it from your perspective exactly the same way you witnessed it so you can enjoy it again and again.
It is why snapchat will beat Instagram. Snapchat are a technology company unconstrained in their imagination, they build what they want and enrich their users’ experience. Instagram are limited by their perception of others’ technology with their innovation tracked to what their competitors launch. Creativity and innovation will always triumph over imitation as long as you relentlessly push the envelope.
Spectacles are indicative of the next wave of technology. Where everything was previously about mobile and apps we will see an increasing push towards instantaneous communication, creation and consumption. Technology becomes sensory; connecting with us and making use of all our physical receptors, expanding our bandwidth past sight only. By this I mean the removal of unnecessary barriers such . Haptic touch, Apple’s Airpods and vibrating Fitbits are other examples, feedback through sensory enrichment. Which begs this existential question: will smartphones remain or will they be displaced?
Will the smartphone evolve to act as a server instead of an input device? Does it becomes a receiver and a transmitter with a monitor to consume content, a localised personal hub if you will, enabling our own internet of things. Or will magic leaps technology of projecting light onto the retina from inside a set of spectacles remove the necessity to even have that hub, with individual pieces of hardware linked to each other.
Wearables are the future, they are inherently more efficient as they form part of pre-existing habits. They remove friction and enable more intuitive actions. Smartwatches are an iterative step into that new world but we are a long way from arriving as an intuitive UX which exploits the capabilities of the technology fully. It will come in time though.
And partnerships will form the basis of this new world. Where smartphones acted as platforms, an interconnected marketplace will come into existence where companies open source their hardware to other companies. Snap Inc. could enable independent companies to utilise with their technology ensuring mutual success and collaboration. Why recreate the wheel when you can add value immediately via integration.
Think spectacles-as-a-service where you subscribe to the feeds of others and consume a sporting event or a concert. An experiential social network where you enter their world by viewing it through their eyes, literally. Social networks become more inclusive and empathetic as you experience instead of mindlessly consuming. It also ensures it becomes about the present moment instead of the past or the future. Content is either consumed or it isn’t and it disappears. If it is upvoted/liked it remains and grows in prominence. This curates the materials within the network with only valuable pieces getting traction. This is already a model that is flourishing within blogging on medium.
And it’s only the start. There will be a tremendous rush of developments in this sphere which alters the paradigm. Sensory feedback will become more prominent, think temperature based notification on your skin when your bath is ready or instantaneous feedback in your ear informing you if a fact you have just heard is inaccurate. A smart reply could be approved by nodding to a messages that was audibly transcribed saving tremendous amounts of time. The rise of the ‘internet of you’ will be contingent on its ease of adoption and development of new means to participate.
Snapchat spectacles are a bold move which divorces snapchats dependence on mobile. It defeats their reliance by enabling a path to future success by creating it. They aren’t waiting to see what comes next, they have placed a bold bet and will lead from the front.
And that’s why I love them.
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