Say hello to Snap Inc.

Daily News Article - September 27, 2016

Questions

1. a) What are Spectacles?
b) How do they work? Describe the features of this new product.

2. How much will Spectacles cost?

3. Why did the company build Spectacles?

4. For what reasons did Snapchat change its name?

5. Read an excerpt from a September 26 Time article:

A little more than three years ago, Google co-founder Sergey Brin introduced the world to Google Glass.

But Google shelved the $1,500 gadget only a few years later.

Widely panned as functionally unhelpful and visually dorky, Glass never reached mainstream adoption. (The company is said to be working on a new version aimed at business customers rather than everyday consumers.)

Sony, Epson, and a handful of other companies have also tried their hand at “intelligent glasses.” And yet a future in which we’re all walking around with digitally enhanced eyewear seems as far off as ever before.

Evan Spiegel, the 26-year-old founder of Snapchat, is now betting he [can succeed with] camera-equipped eyeglasses called Spectacles.

Spectacles are different from Google Glass and similar devices in several important ways:

-They’re significantly cheaper
-They’re designed solely for capturing video, and
-They’re meant for casual use.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Spiegel described Spectacles as a “toy” ideal capturing occasions like barbecues and outdoor concerts. Perhaps the most important difference between them and Glass: Spectacles actually look like regular sunglasses….

Google Glass, meanwhile, was meant to be more than just a wearable camera. Glass is better described as a miniature face-mounted computer. Complete with tiny display, Glass worked with users’ smartphones to show information like incoming texts, GPS directions, and even cooking recipes.

Google pitched Glass as a high-tech fashion accessory, a wearable camera for adrenaline junkies and photography enthusiasts and a hands-free computer for the workplace all rolled into one. That might have been its biggest problem. Glass did many things, but did few of them particularly well. That left it without any single use case impressive enough to help it break into the mainstream. (Its overtly sci-fi design and creepiness factor didn’t help.)

Spiegel’s gadget may be different than Glass, but his firm faces a similar challenge in convincing people to wear a gadget on their face. Snap Inc. has a few advantages here. Unlike Glass, Spectacles are a simple, focused and relatively affordable product designed to do one thing well. Meanwhile, Snap Inc. is creating the specialized camera inside its glasses, potentially allowing the firm to create apps and experiences specifically tailored for its photographic output. Having some kind of “killer app” might help convince consumers to give Spectacles a try.

Still, Snap Inc. will likely come up against what may have ultimately been the death knell for Google Glass. The idea of a face-mounted camera was viewed as a privacy nightmare by some, since it wasn’t always clear when it was recording. The devices were banned from some bars, restaurants and theaters, especially in the tech-forward Silicon Valley area.

How Snap Inc. learns from Google’s experience in terms of the “creepiness factor” will in part determine how Spectacles are received by the public.

a) How successful do you think Specs will be? Explain your answer.
b) Would you like to own a pair of Snap Spectacles? Why or why not?
c) How would your school and/or society at large be affected if large numbers of people used Snap Spectacles regularly? (positive, negative, no difference) Explain your answer.
d) Ask a parent: Did you like the idea of Google Glass? Do you have the same opinion of Snap Spectacles? Please explain your answer.