Do not look now, but the next computing platform is coming. It will not be a phone, a laptop or a miniport you carry on your wrist. It will be a pair of glasses that annul the way you communicate, find information and see the world around you.
Do you want to take a look at that future? Take a look through the Snap shows.
Wait. Glasses? The camera-enabled sunglasses that received a faint reception when Snap released the first pair in 2016? Sure, they're specifically part of Snap's future and the survival of the self-proclaimed camera company in the looming battle against Facebook, Apple, Google and all the other companies competing for real estate in your face. But this is more than a hardware lark or a trick for people to post more content on Snapchat. Introducing the sequel to Spectacles, Snap is sending a message: these glasses are not just our future. They are also your future.
Okay, maybe not Spectacles specifically, at least not in its current form. Spectacles 2.0 falls into the same pitfalls as Spectacles 1.0: fun to use, but not essential. They are also tied, for now, to the Snapchat platform. You have to open the application to recover your footage, and everything you capture appears in a strange and circular format that only looks great on Snapchat. But Snap does not need glasses to be an essential tool that changes life, not yet. The company needs to practice making hardware so that it is ready for when this technology really matters.
The race to make the first great pair of face-puters has already started, with all the big technology companies competing for the domain. Whether the technology will be used as a tool for gathering information, such as Google Glass, or entertainment devices, such as Oculus Rift from Facebook, remains to be seen. But by a large consensus, will be shown in the form of glasses, giving free access to a completely new type of computing. When that revolution comes, Snap wants to be in the front line.
That's why shows are so important. They are not Magic Leap, but somehow, they are even better: a product that you can actually use on your face at this time . The fact that their capabilities are so simple (press a button, record a video) can make them more appealing than, for example, a device that is submerged in the deepest part with voice controls, augmented reality and an interface always active The shows will not change the way you see the world, but they can make the idea of a usable face a little less insane and be the ideal person for what comes next. And the fact that they are in nature makes it easier for Snap to understand how to design a product that you are supposed to wear on your head all the time. (Is not easy!). The company says it completely redesigned the second version based on comments from the first: it replaced the gills with a smaller battery and a better image processor, and thinned the hardware to make it feel lighter. The next version, in which Snap is already working, should be even better.
Snap can no longer count on its central application to keep it relevant in the coming years. The positive factor of the application has been shutting down for years; competitors, like Instagram, are an existential threat. But Snapchat has become much more than an ephemeral messaging application in the seven years since its launch. It's the place that taught you to take a selfie and how to love augmented reality. It is still the most reliable way to take a great picture, with some of the best camera software on your phone. You need a way to take all this beyond the application, a way to prevent people from taking pictures and videos, and to keep playing in their augmented reality worlds, even if they do not end up publishing a Snap story. A way to do that? Offer people a new way to interact with that software outside of a messaging application. Like, for example, a real camera.
One day in the future, the Spectacles will not be clumsy looking goggles with technology frames. They will be a sophisticated computer platform: one that captures video better than a GoPro, makes the hot dog give life to your eyes, and makes it a little easier to leave your phone behind. It may seem distant, but Snap is working to build the next computing platform, with separate arms from the company developing the hardware and software that will converge to do the next big thing. "In the next decade or so, the way these pieces fit together is probably what defines our company," Spiegel told Jessi Hempel of WIRED this week. Hardware glasses, for example, could be what takes Snap's investment in augmented reality to the next level.
Snap has been dreaming of this future for a long time, even before officially leaving the "chat" of the company name. In 2017, he presented a patent for a type of augmented reality glasses that would seamlessly merge the digital world with the physical one. A patent, of course, is not a roadmap for the product; Apple and Facebook have also filed patents for AR glasses. But none of those companies has introduced a piece of hardware that comes close to the AR glasses. Snap is already in its second edition.
Snap might not reach the top in wearable war. But just as it paved the way for a new kind of social networks with ephemeral "stories" and taught the Internet to love AR with its lenses, Snap is doing something important with Spectacles: teaching people to use the computer on their faces . Like all of Snap's great ideas, it's only a matter of time before the rest of the industry copies them.
The Future of Faceputers