Snap’s prior forays into the hardware world haven’t been as notable as its popular social media app Snapchat, but the company is apparently committed to seeing how far its Spectacles wearables can go with users. To that end, it today revealed Spectacles 3, glasses with dual cameras built in to capture 3D depth, which it says will enable digital augmented reality assets to interact with real world objects captured in a scene.
Unlike some wearable glasses, Snap’s designs don’t hide their front-facing cameras, instead working to integrate the prominent circular shapes with the headsets. The new glasses slightly overlap the twin cameras at the outer edges of sunglass lenses, with carbon black or “hint of gold” mineral-colored steel frames holding the rest of the electronics. LED lights provide recording notifications.
Capturing video or photos with Spectacles 3 is easy. Users can tap one of two buttons to record up to 60 seconds of video, including audio captured from four microphones, or press and hold to record stills. Recordings — with the sort of modest but real 3D depth seen in dual-camera smartphone apps — can be viewed on an included cardboard 3D viewer for your phone, while a USB-C-enabled charging case allows the glasses to be recharged four times without a wall outlet or computer.
Snap is only hinting at the specific AR applications it expects Spectacles 3 to empower, but the new wearable is furthering the “camera company’s” belief that the natural, seamless place for a camera is directly in the user’s field of vision, rather than on a handheld screen. It says integrating dual cameras will enable Snaps to be taken in 3D and transformed with 3D effects, as well as viewed in virtual reality, and processed in “high definition” 2D with new lighting, landscape, and other effects.
Calling the output “high definition” is a stretch. The actual single photo resolution of 1,642 x 1,642 and 2D video resolution of 1,216 x 1,216 fall well shy of the resolutions captured by modern (or even old) smartphones, once again making Spectacles content largely suitable for quick viewing in Snapchat, not archival use.
Spectacles 3 can be preordered now for $380 — a price the company appears to understand is steep. It’s producing the glasses as a limited edition run, with an unspecified fraction of the number of Spectacles 1 glasses (over 200,000) actually sold as of last year. The company reportedly disposed of many early Spectacles due to a lack of consumer uptake, but the new version’s 3D capabilities may make it more interesting to potential users. It will officially hit stores in the fall, around November.