An Inside Look at Snapchat Spectacles

April 13, 2017

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Chris Lavigne


There’s a brand new camera form factor in town. It’s called Spectacles from Snap, Inc., and it’s a camera you can wear on your face.

Spectacles are Snap’s first piece of hardware. In a nutshell, they’re camera-equipped sunglasses that record videos, and import them right into the Snapchat app on your phone. They do one thing (and only one thing) incredibly easily — take snaps.

Up until recently, you could only buy these from a limited number of Snapbot vending machines, but now you can buy them online for $130. We were super excited to get a pair shipped to our office at Wistia!

After having a bit of a tough time unboxing them, we put them in the hands of a few Wistian Snappers to do some field testing.

Here’s what they had to say!

Molly’s rating: B+

I think that if they can fine-tune the technology and make them even more stealthy, they’ll certainly catch on. I look forward to Instagram’s version of them in 6 months.

Setting it all up was pretty easy. I was excited when I realized you didn’t have to send all of your snaps to your story — you could pick and choose after. This made room for lots of mistakes.

Here’s when I first put them on:

Content with customizations

I’m typically a still photo snapper, and the Spectacles forced me to post videos. I really wish there was a way to take just a snapshot and post it. I did enjoy being able to customize the snaps with words and a classic bitmoji reaction before posting.


I felt a little ridiculous wearing them — I immediately had to explain that I was doing it for a blog post at work — but ultimately, I loved the experience (especially at the dog park).

It was fun to capture things in real-time, with the wide angle. I probably attached them to my dog’s collar a bit too much, but you live and you learn.

Trevor’s rating: B-

There’s still something weird about having an almost unnoticeable camera on your face and recording whatever you want. It’s definitely cool, but on a practical basis, I can’t see myself using Specs instead of my phone.

Look ma, no hands!

I thought it was neat that they created an avenue for hands-free snaps. I found myself snapping things I could have never pulled off with my phone. I could see this being super cool for outdoor activities and anything where your body is in motion. I like that you don’t even have to think when it comes to recording, since your head is basically one big camera.

Saving surprise

I really like the way it saves your Spec snaps in a separate tab in Snapchat, and how you’re able to review and post which snaps you think are best, similar to a camera roll. It saves each day, and you can scroll back through and even post days after you shot something. Given that Snapchat is a totally instantaneous platform, it was a nice surprise to be able to back post with Specs.

Countdown please

They could have done a better job notifying the shooter when time is almost up on their snap. For potential subjects in the snap, it’s easy to see the countdown wheel and know when the recording is coming to an end. But for the shooter, this was hard to see. It would be nice to have a clear countdown indicator on the inside of the glasses.

Fashion faux-pas

I could have dealt without the round yellow ring on the front of the glasses. I know that is probably to call attention to the camera, but I would almost rather be able to have Specs double as my actual sunglasses. If they were my own, I’d probably use a black sharpie and color over it.

Chris Savage’s rating: B-

The Spectacles represent a step into the future for video recording and for wearables in general, but they are not going to be replacing my normal sunglasses.

Capturing the moment

The few times that I wore the Specs in the wild, I caught some quick moments that I would never have captured otherwise. For example, I was out shoveling with my Specs, and I happened to see (and record) my daughter Zoe’s delight as she saw me coming in from outside.

I wouldn’t have had the time or forethought to capture this moment with my phone, but the Specs made it easy without taking me out of the moment. This is a huge change from almost any other type of video recording, and it made me really happy to be able to capture something so genuine.

Circular woes

Snapchat clearly decided to record in this new circular video format so that as the shooter, you are more likely to capture what you want, and as a viewer (on a phone), you have control to figure out which view makes sense. Unfortunately, this makes it a little weird to share these videos on anything but Snapchat, which makes them less useful.

Future feels

I think the Specs are the future, but they feel more like the Rio than the iPod. They are fun, and they get the job done, but they are missing something to take them from a sometimes shooter to a full-time one. It also blows my mind that they are 1/10th the price of Google Glass. In the next few years, I think we’ll see glasses that look great, record video, and give us information and context. I’m not sure Snap will be the company to make this happen, but I’m excited to watch and see.

Margot’s rating: D+

Overall, I didn’t like using the Spectacles, and I didn’t think that they were worth it. I don’t think they’ll catch on — the experience is clunky, it lacks stabilization, there are extra steps to posting, and it’s not practical.

Glasses on glasses

I honestly can’t say I liked the Spectacles at all. Right away I saw a major issue — these Spectacles obviously weren’t made for someone who already wears glasses. You couldn’t clip them onto your regular glasses. I put them on above my glasses, since I don’t wear contacts, or switched between the Spectacles (to snap) and my glasses (to just go about my day).

Not fun for foodies

The Specs don’t focus in the same way your eyes do. For example, I wanted to snap eating some delicious food at a restaurant. Although my peripheral vision allows me to see my plate without having to completely move my chin down to my neck, the Spectacles require me to look all the way down to snap what I’m looking at.

Dizzying dilemma

It seems the Spectacles were made for more adventurous hands-free experiences, such as hiking or even biking — they want you to move your head around and show your hands, otherwise, you could have just used a phone. However, when you snap in a situation where you’re moving a lot, like on a hike or a run, the actual footage is very difficult to watch. It’s dizzying and hard to keep up with. I’d much rather use a phone that allows me to stabilize the footage.

Chris Lavigne’s rating: A-

In my experience, I loved having two free hands while shooting a video. It felt a lot like the first time I used a GoPro on my ski helmet! You don’t even think about the camera. It’s really awesome to be able to share a moment as your eyes see it.

I found myself wanting the functionality you’d expect with a traditional camera. Things like being able to preview the image in the Snapchat app, and quite simply, just wanting to take clips longer than 10 seconds!

After reviewing the footage I snapped, here are some of my tips for future Specs shooting:

  • Slow your head motions down.
  • Everything is way wider than you think, so if you need to show something up close, make sure it’s about 6 inches away from the lens-side of the glasses.
  • Launching the front-facing camera app on your phone is an interesting way to talk on-screen while still wearing the glasses when you can’t find a mirror to talk into.
  • People are inclined to look at the white spinning LED status light instead of the actual camera! This feels like a fundamental design flaw that hopefully will be addressed in the future.

Snapchat Spectacles are a bold move in the world of cameras, and we’re excited to find out what we’ll be shooting with even a year from today.

So what do you think? Are wearable cameras in the not-so-distant future? Are you excited to get your hands on a pair of Spectacles? Let us know in the comments!

April 13, 2017

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Chris Lavigne


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