New Snap Spectacles Are Raising Eyebrows Over Privacy

The new eyewear from Snapchat—now called Snap— has people voicing the same privacy concerns as the ill-fated google glass.

Snap, Inc. —formerly Snapchat— has come out with fashionable eyewear that records circular video and uploads it to the company's app. While the new product is fast becoming a trend, it may be raising a lot of the same concerns as the now-retired Google Glass.

spectacles from snap

The devices are called Spectacles and are equipped with two large, round cameras, which light up and take 10-second, circular clips of the world through your eyes. However, the design is more obvious than Google Glass, Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal explained after doing a trial run with the Snap eyewear. 

But there are still questions around creating discreet recording devices. "The Spectacle’s ring of LED lights shine[s] helpfully when recording, and no matter what color frames you buy, there’s always a yellow ring outlining the camera," said Stern. "Still, I secretly recorded loads of people and things (in public) this week. Heck, I may even have a shot of you."

Find Law legal writer Casey Sullivan doesn't think Spectacles present the same issues as Google Glass, whose users were infamously dubbed "Glassholes," just for wearing the glasses in public. 

"We need to remember what was so invasive about Google Glass in the first place," said Sullivan. "Google Glass allowed users to take photos and videos, read email, or stream video all from one headset. That raised significant privacy concerns, particularly because Google Glass was often worn all the time, as one would wear regular glasses."

By contrast, Spectacles are "comically sized, brightly colored glasses with exaggerated lenses," which can only record 10 second clips and upload them directly to Snap's app. Sullivan also points out that the prohibitive price of Google Glass —a whopping $1,500 per pair— made their use more exclusive, whereas Spectacles' $130 price point means more people can use them, which will probably make the public more comfortable with the idea. 

In the end, Spectacles seem to pose the same problems as all of our other smart devices, but with their highly visible design, people will likely acclimate to them just as we have done with our cell phones.

Overall, Spectacles seem poised to be a success, from their quirky "Snapbot" marketing campaign, which helps users find a robot that dispenses the glasses to customers, to the celebrity endorsements that have come out on social media like the video uploaded by the Miami Hurricanes of a Spectacles user filming the team. One optical company is already offering specially-cut prescription lenses for Spectacles enthusiasts.

As media maven Geoff Golberg pointed out, however, taking a selfie with Spectacles is a complete impossibility. Hopefully Snap will get right on that, but in the meantime, it looks like these glasses may yet outlive their unfortunate Google predecessor. 

Banner Image Credit: Twitter, @kriskolodziej

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