As you may have heard by now, Snapchat officially renamed itself to ‘Snap Inc.’ this past week as part of a massive rebranding scheme, and from the looks of it, they’re potentially even heading towards wearable tech.
‘Snap inc.’ is moving out of your smartphone and onto your face, for only 130$ (still less than most pairs of upscale sunglasses). These shades will let you, as shown in a leaked video, record video with a button on the glasses for up to 10 seconds, all of which will wirelessly be uploaded onto the app.
Snapchat was founded in 2011 by Stanford student Evan Spiegel for the sole purpose of sending and receiving photos which would disappear after an allotted amount of time. While the app originally had a reputation for being used to send illicit photos, Spiegel still claims that it was not created for that. Since Snapchat rejected a $3 billion offer from Facebook in 2013, it has undergone significant growth in its product and its acquisitions. It has added and updated a multimedia content hub it calls Discover, introduced new and rotating filters for people to obsess over, and recently acquired Bitmoji (a popular emoji app) as well as a 3D imaging startup.
Here’s a timeline of the social-mobile landscape: Snapchat launches in 2011. In 2013, Google Glass, a product with the ability to take photos and record video, interact with phone calls, notifications, calendars and other apps is released among the American elite, for $1500, and is now undergoing an indefinite redesign. Facebook, in 2014, purchases the headset company Oculus as a move into virtual reality production, suggesting an overlap between wearable tech and social. In 2016, Instagram copies Snapchat’s popular ‘story’ feature, consequently becoming social media’s annoying little sister and signalling, “Look, everybody’s doing it!” Yet, despite Google Glass being considered a market failure, what we see from all of this is that technology is becoming more and more entwined in our lives, both socially and physically.
How does Snapchat’s rebranding as ‘Snap Inc.’ fit into this trend? It is its expression to the world that it is not just an app for sending ‘selfies’ anymore, it is now a corporation with larger ambitions, and while it is not on the same plane as the obvious names such as Google and Apple, it is setting a standard for the tech community to not be afraid to take steps out of our phones and into our lives.
For now, and maybe for the next five years, the idea of wearing my Facebook feed on my face sounds impossible and horrible. But we all check our phones every five seconds almost as an impulse, to see which push notifications have popped up, so how shocking is it to think of ourselves eventually wearing our notifications? Twenty years ago the most responsibility with technology we had was our Tamagotchis, but we are spending more and more time scrolling through feeds and staring at our computers. People are now spending thousands of dollars on “digital detox” vacations; resorts in “tech dead zones” such as Tanzania, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos where you are required to get rid of all tech and instead “take a nap”, participate in “outdoor fitness classes and activities”, and enjoy lack of communication with your hundreds of ‘friends’. Based on the price points, these are the same people who are probably buying Apple watches, Google glasses, and Snap Inc. clothing. Yet, if more companies take advantage of this growing market, we might see less digital detoxes and more Apple watches, FitBits, virtual reality glasses, and now, Snapchat Spectacles.