I promised myself I’d try to keep this newsletter a little more active the coming months. Starting off with a new product launch, which I had the privilege to test out a few weeks ago.
While devices such as Magic Leap and HoloLens are working to bring us ‘full feature’ wearable AR, which are in terms of technology extremely impressive but in terms of size impractical for casual use, Snap’s V3 Spectacles are working at the human-end of that market.
The new Spectacles were deliberately designed to be only a small step towards that ‘full-feature’ wearable AR; I guess you could call it AR Lite. They were designed with humans in mind, and work without a permanent link to a power socket or processor, and a wifi signal.
The V3 version launched last week world-wide, and have a second camera built-in, which means that they capture depth as well as video and audio. This means that, once on your phone, all your captured content can have AR overlaid on top of them - not just color filters but particle effects with physics, bouncing characters that interact with walls and surfaces, and objects that float in the sky - AR effects that interact with the real world inside your content.
This approach is similar to the way Apple are likely to release an AR headset, in that it is wirelessly connected to the users phone to offload some of the heavy lifting.
And this is decidedly different from Nreal, or the recently released headset by Kura Technologies, which are both standalone. The latter has ‘the largest ever field of view to size ratio’ and both are very impressive. Worth checking out some demo clips of the Kura headset here on Kelly Pengs Twitter account (as well as following the behind-the-scenes peeks into her daily work).
Probably whats most notable about Spectacles combined with AR is that there is no limit to your field of view, when adding AR lenses. The limitations of not actually showing AR in realtime, but only after the fact, have their benefits. And this is where the world starts to get weird.
And you can make AR lenses for the Spectacles yourself, with a normal laptop or computer, using Lens Studio, Snap’s free AR creation software.
I work with Lens Studio daily, but that doesn’t mean what I do is particularly complicated - you can do it too, with just a little bit of practice.
As part of the OLC community, I got together with over 100 creators last month for a Hackathon to experiment with the VR Spectacles and Lens Studio - and to play with adding AR to captured videos. It was an exciting first step into the intersection between head-mounted first-person POV videos and Augmented Reality content that feels truly integrated with the real world - and which persists no matter where you turn your head. But you have to get your head around the post-capture composing.
Once you do, it’s not really a barrier at all. And combining the flexibility of Spectacles, with the ability to create something yourself within an hour, allows for some magical moments to be made.
Evan Spiegel often says that AR glasses are unlikely to be a mainstream phenomenon for at least 10 years — there are simply too many hardware limitations today. The available processors are basically just repurposed from mobile phones; displays are too power hungry; batteries drain too quickly.
‘We’re just on a journey with Spectacles. And we’re fortunate that we can continue to invest along that path to get there.’
Yusuf has been wearing some form of wearable camera for over a decade and to him, a future without phones is an exciting possibility - and Spectacles 3 are a big step in that direction. His talks on this subject (such as this one) are fascinating because it shows how our daily, extensive use of phones will radically change in the coming years. And how wearable devices like the Spectacles provide a new kind of approach to storytelling - add to that AR and it is clear these products are the first steps to a complete transformation in how we communicate.
I will send another update later this week. It’s always encouraging to hear from you, so do send me a 👋 if you feel like it.