Rumours have been circulating for months that Snapchat has been planning to release a hardware product, but over the weekend the design for its Spectacles smart glasses was revealed, prompting the company to rename itself as Snap Inc to reflect its diversifying product line.
The unveiling followed a leaked video of the product being obtained by Business Insider, which showed the glasses using an integrated camera to film footage at a child's birthday party, as well as revealing the name of both the smart glasses and the new company.
Following the leaked footage going public, Snap Inc confirmed the details of the product to the Wall Street Journal, disclosing that the smart glasses would retail for $129 (£99) and would go on sale soon, although with limited distribution.
Confirmation of the smart glasses comes less than a month after it was revealed Snapchat had joined the Bluetooth working group, which was only open to firms creating hardware products using the technology.
Snap Inc CEO Evan Spiegel has been closely involved in the creation of the smart glasses, as has co-founder Bobby Murphy, working with a small top-secret team known internally as Snap Labs.The Spectacles have a 115-degree angle lens, which is designed to mimic how the human eye sees, and will record 10 seconds of video in a circular frame. While recording, a circle of lights around the lens illuminates to let others know you are filming.
Once video has been recorded, it will transmit via Bluetooth or wi-fi to a paired device with Snapchat, where it will sit in the Memories section of the app. From there, users can choose to post the video to their account's Story for others to see.
"We're going to take a slow approach to rolling them out," said Spiegel in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "It's about us figuring out if it fits into people's lives and seeing how they like it."
Given the lack of success that Google saw with its Glass project, the firm is smart to be tentative when it comes to rolling out a smart glass project and present the device as experimental at best (Spiegel also referred to the glasses as a "toy"). However, whether or not they represent a new core product for the newly rechristened Snap Inc, they certainly represent a leap forward for the business as it continues to evolve beyond its core product and present itself as a true contender to more established firms like Twitter and Facebook.