Snapchat (in fact Snap Inc.) Spectacles for recording short movie clips and posting them in the Snap app are bound to be a spectacular success. However, these are not the first intelligent glasses that were supposed to rock the market.

Snap Inc. launched the product at the same time when they announced rebranding. All you need to do is tap the button on Specs to take a video in a new circular video format that captures the user’s perspective. The field of vision is not obstructed with smartphone held between your eyes and recorded object. The Spectacles give freedom as your hands are free and you don’t need to worry that your phone might fall down.

The Specs may surely become an inevitable gadget for people addicted to Snap. With their simplicity they fall just in place with users’ willingness to be sociable and share their lives with others. They make “entertainment” a totally new game. Yet, the sole idea of a pair of glasses with camera is nothing new.

Read on to learn which intelligent glasses were on the market before the Snap gadget and how they compare.

Google Glass – an idea crashed by reality

A few years ago everybody was talking about the Google Glass project, there was also bad publicity that they would abuse privacy. Persons afraid of being recorded made it clear that such a gadget is not welcome and they effectively put off potential users. Google Glasses were designed to unnoticeably take pictures with 5MPx and record video clips in the quality of 720p. May the Specs be threatened in a similar way?
For now, it doesn’t seem so. Firstly, Snap glasses are not technologically advanced but a simple tool to be used for entertainment and they are targeted at people already using the app. Secondly, there is an outward facing-light to show others when you’re recording and they’re in your field of view. The video itself cannot be longer than 30 seconds. Thirdly, although not everybody may like their design, the Specs look way more user-friendly than Google Glass.

The Snapchat gadget should be treated as a perfect smartphone accessory, not an intrusive product that will replace the newest cell phones.
Google Glass were to serve as a personal projector by displaying images in front of your eyes thanks to the prism display. The user would feel like watching a video clip on a 25-inch HDTV being 2,5 m away. This product had much to offer: integrated with Google Translate, with access to weather application and cloud service, voice commands and more. So why was it not successful?

There was still no official consumer version in January 2015, when the Google Glass Explorer project was officially closed. The failure of the glasses was due not only to exorbitant price, sense of threat of losing privacy and not comfortable and user-friendly design but also simply the skeptical society with their prejudices was not ready for such technological revolution. On the other hand, spy glasses have been available on the market for some time now…

Despite all failures, Google is planning to sell an improved version of the smart glasses under the Glass at Work programme. The product will not be available to everybody as it is targeted at specialized companies and small start-ups.

Intelligent spy glasses

Camera hidden in glasses is not only a gadget, it may even serve as a tool of getting irrefutable proofs in cases of, for example:

  • dishonest nannies abusing children
  • mobbing
  • financial frauds
  • infidelity
  • punishable threats

Contrary to the Google Glass with futuristic design, spy glasses look like normal, everyday glasses so they can actually be used for discreet recording as they do not arouse any suspicions.

Bear in mind that hidden cameras are not allowed in some public places! The use of intelligent spy glasses has been prohibited in cinemas, for example by Motion Picture Association of America and National Association of Theatre Owners.

OTP-GL300 spy glasses with digital mini camera are perfect for the eagle-eyed and also for those with sight defects as the lenses available in the set may be replaced with corrective or even tinted glasses. The built-in battery allows to operate for about one and a half hour, what should be taken into consideration while recording an important meeting. The device can store up to 4 hours of recordings. If you are looking for a more powerful model, check out the OTP-GL800 spy glasses with digital microcamera. It offers 32GB of memory and, due to provided set of two batteries, up to 2 hours of working without recharging. The battery is easy to replace, all you need to do is exchange the earpiece, what can discreetly be done in a toilet if a meeting is taking longer than expected.

Interactive sport eyewear inspired by military technology

Recon Jet with HD camera are smart glasses for training stuffed with electronics that can display in front of their user a 30-inch display that can be moved with a hand swipe. They are equipped with, among others: altimeter, thermometer, accelerometer, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

With this device you don’t need a sport watch – data on distance, pace or speed is also displayed and there is a possibility of displaying maps as well. Some claim of course that staring at a virtual screen while riding a bike may lead to an accident. Other disadvantage is a high price starting from $499. No wonder sport watches are still in fashion.
The most cutting edge solutions are to be available in the Raptor Cycling Smartglasses which were presented in July 2015. They feature HUD (Head-Up Display) used in, e.g. military technology. It allows direct presenting of data on, for example, a car windscreen. No need for an additional projector and a user doesn’t have to look away from their usual viewpoints. Information on speed, pulse, altitude, etc., is displayed on the lenses in real-time and overlaid directly in the line of sight.

When will they be available? When asked on Facebook, the Everysight manufacturer answers: We will be providing regular updates over the next few months. Stay tuned and watch this space.

Will with time Snap develop their Spectacles by adding additional electronics and new functionalities available in similar products or will they keep it simple? Sometimes taking smaller steps is more profitable than going all in, like Google Glass did.
Main photo – print screen from the Spectacles webpage.