Snapchat Spectacles: The smart person's guide

Are Snap Inc.'s Spectacles more than just a gimmick? Here's a look at how the wearables can be a practical benefit to an organization's social media strategy.

Snapchat has been a definite newsmaker since its release in 2011, and Snap, Inc. continues to make news with its new product: Spectacles. Looking like a pair of slightly clunky sunglasses, Spectacles house a video camera and microphone that allow the wearer to create first-person, hands-free videos with minimal effort.

That doesn't mean they're practical, though, and Spectacles definitely comes off as a gimmick. That first glance is misleading, however, especially for businesses and organizations that include Snapchat as part of their social media platform.

TechRepublic's smart person's guide about Snapchat Spectacles is a quick introduction to this wearable tech product, as well as a "living" guide that will be updated periodically as new versions of hardware and software are released.

SEE: Check out all of TechRepublic's smart person's guides.

Executive summary

  • What are Spectacles? Spectacles are sunglasses built by Snapchat's parent company, Snap Inc. They contain a camera and microphone capable of recording 10-second videos for playback on Snapchat.
  • Why do Spectacles matter? It's easy to dismiss Spectacles as a novelty, but they're much more important than that. Businesses can use them to show off new products, and they're also conceptual proof of the possible evolution of wearable tech.
  • Who do Spectacles affect? Spectacles affect anyone who uses Snapchat and wants to get more out of it. They also have a huge effect on businesses that use Snapchat since they can be leveraged for increased social media exposure.
  • When will Spectacles be available? Spectacles are out now but are only available online at the Spectacles website.
  • How do I start using Spectacles? If you're lucky enough to have a pair of Spectacles you can start using them by simply connecting them inside the Snapchat app.

SEE: Photos of cracking open the Snapchat Spectacles (TechRepublic)

What are Spectacles?

From the outside Snap Inc.'s Spectacles look like a pair of sunglasses, albeit with a couple of brightly colored circles at the base of the arms. Those somewhat jarring circles are what makes Spectacles the latest in wearable tech: LEDs, a camera, a microphone, and all the stuff needed to power them.

Spectacles are wearable video cameras with a catch: They only record 10-second clips at a time. Users can extend the video time by pressing the record button again, but it just produces two continuous 10-second clips instead of a longer one.

As soon as a video is taken it's synced to the connected Snapchat account. It isn't auto posted, though: The app gives you a chance to edit it before making it live. If the Spectacles are out of range of their paired phone you don't have to worry: They can store videos and then sync them once the phone is back in range.

If you're worried about capacity don't be: Photographs of internal components and our own research leads us to be confident that there are 4GB of ePoP flash storage. That should be more than enough to snap to your heart's content when you forget your phone.

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Why do Spectacles matter?

It's simple to dismiss Spectacles as a tech toy that will get limited use before being forgotten in a desk drawer. While that's definitely the case for plenty of pairs that doesn't mean they don't have their place.

Promotional shots of Spectacles in use by sports teams and other organizations show off the perfect use: First-person perspectives of product demos, events, and even a behind-the-scenes look at daily operations.

Beyond being a great way to reach more customers on social media, Spectacles are also a preview of the future of wearable tech. Yes, the limitations on them (being locked into Snapchat and only taking 10-second videos) force them into a very small niche, but similar products are likely to come out in the future that look and feel like Spectacles with an added openness.

Like it or not, the kind of instant media that Spectacles allow the average person to create is the new norm. The quicker an organization learns to take advantage of this new form of content creation the better off it will be.

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Who do Spectacles affect?

Anyone who uses Snapchat for work or promotional purposes is affected by Spectacles. They're the newest way to reach audiences, and they're very much a hot gimmick right now, making them an attention grabber in almost any situation.

Businesses that use Spectacles as part of their social media campaigns are giving their followers a new way to look at their world, and it's intimate in a way that typical photos and videos simply can't be. If that kind of close connection to customers could benefit your business, there's no reason not to try getting your hands on a pair.

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When will Spectacles be available?

Spectacles have been available since November 2016, and until February 2017 they were very hard to get. Snap Inc. only sold them in pop-up vending machines that they placed in random locations in major cities like New York. Now the page that used to show a countdown until the next vending machine appeared redirects to the online purchase page. has all three colors (black, teal, and coral) available for sale at $129.99—no more having to chase around a vending machine!

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How do I start using Spectacles?

All you need are a pair of Spectacles, a Snapchat account, and a smartphone. Setting them up is incredibly easy, provided you know how to navigate through Snapchat well enough to find the menu.

Once paired you just press the button on the left side to start taking video, then open Snapchat to share it or add it to your story. Spectacles charge in their case, which can get them from empty to full four times before it needs to be recharged using a cable as well.

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Image: TechRepublic

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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