Snapchat’s parent company Snap is back with a new pair of its camera glasses that offer a hint of how the future of augmented reality will enhance the world. 

Announced back in August, the new glasses go on sale today at Spectacles.com and in department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges. 

The premium shopping destinations demonstrate where Snap is positioning its V3 Spectacles, as a fashion/tech accessory instead of simply a tech product. The new Spectacles certainly look and feel more premium than the previous iterations, as they are made out of lightweight steel rather than plastic. There are two colour options to choose from: black, with a semi-matte finish, and mineral, which offers gold hints.

The new design, as well as an additional camera and two extra microphones, bringing the total to four, are all part of the price increase – from £149.99 on V2, to £330 for V3. 

Snap says its V3 Spectacles are its next step in realising the future of augmented reality (AR) eyewear. The second camera now means the Specs can capture depth in the real world, which means that pictures and videos can be overlayed with Snapchat’s special AR effects in the app. 

“If you think about the future of AR eyewear, it is important for us to be able to map the topography of the physical world around us, so that we can overlay computing on top of it in useful and compelling ways,” Steen Stand, Snap’s director of hardware, tells the Standard. “By having two cameras, we can create a depth map of 3D space, allowing us to create more applications for AR. Understanding where objects are allows us to create effects on, around or behind them, and truly widens the canvas for us and our creator community.”

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The new Spectacles 3 are available in black and a gold-type design (Snap)

When you use the Spectacles it is impressive how much better the camera is, particularly when taking video. There’s some getting used to when actually taking photos and videos, as there’s no viewfinder you can sometimes be way off the mark, but it’s no different than using a polaroid camera or a non-digital camera. As all the content goes into your Snapchat app, you can pick and choose the best ones to keep and edit and discard anything that isn’t up to standard.

Snap has been working with its lens creators to create specific 3D and AR effects for the Spectacles, such as adding a flying phoenix into videos or adding hearts and sparkles to a scene. 

Snapchat 3D lenses for Spectacles 

Playing with a technology like this makes you excited for when you’ll be able to play with AR effects directly in a pair of glasses, not just in an accompanying app. With Apple and Facebook both working on AR glasses, though Apple’s reportedly won’t arrive until post-2022, this is certainly where the future is headed. But, we’re not quite there yet. 

Stand says Snap will continue to “lean into this area”, of learning and developing the form and function of its AR eyewear alongside the community that uses them. “Form in the sense of experimental and polarising designs, function in the sense of understanding depth in a way that allows us to make everything around us a canvas and create even more sophisticated and believable AR effects and utilities,” he adds. 

What about the news of the other tech companies looking to gain a foothold in the AR glasses market? “Every company has to follow its own path to the future. Snap will continue to deliver AR innovations that are human-centric, fun and accessible,” says Stand. 

Snap’s V3 Spectacles may not be the ultimate AR object we’re looking for but it seems the company is optimistic that it is well on the way to that reality.

Spectacles 3, £330, Spectacles.com/uk

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