Snapchat introduces video-catching sunglasses

The sunglasses retail for US$130 (S$176) a pair.

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Vanishing message service Snapchat announced on Saturday (Sept 24) it will launch a line of video-catching sunglasses, a spin on Glass eyewear abandoned by Google more than a year ago.

The California-based company, which also announced it is changing its name to Snap Inc, said in an online post that its Spectacles will be "available soon", with media reports pegging the price at US$130 (S$177) a pair.

"We've been working for the past few years to develop a totally new type of camera," said the post by Team Snap.

"Spectacles are sunglasses with an integrated video camera that makes it easy to create Memories."

Snap earlier this year added a way to save images as "Memories", a shift for a service know for messages that disappear after being viewed.

Spectacles were billed as having one of the smallest wireless cameras in the world, capable of capturing a day's worth of "Snaps" on a single charge.

The sunglasses connect to Snap software wirelessly using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections.

Spectacles cameras take video from the perspective of wearers, boast a 115-degree field of view, and capture snippets of video intended for sharing at the service.

"Imagine one of your favorite memories," Snap said.

"What if you could go back and see that memory the way you experienced it? That's why we built Spectacles."

Snap estimates it has more than 100 million users globally of the service for sending videos, images and text messages which vanish after being viewed. Some reports say it generates 10 billion video views per day.

Google in January of last year halted sales of its Internet-linked eyewear Glass, which became available in the United States in early 2014.

The technology titan put the brakes on an "explorer" programme that let people interested in dabbling with Glass - hotly anticipated by some, mocked by others - buy eyewear for US$1,500 apiece.

The Glass test programme was later expanded to Britain, but no general consumer version was released.

Glass connected to the Internet using Wi-Fi hot spots or, more typically, by being wirelessly tethered to mobile phones.

Google Glass had been hit with criticism due to concerns about privacy since the devices were capable of capturing pictures and video.

Spectacles, expected to be in limited supply when they hit the market, would put pressure on GoPro, whose mini-cameras are designed to let people capture video of endeavours from personal perspectives.

GoPro last week unveiled new Hero5 cameras, a drone called Karma and a cloud-based service for editing and sharing video in the hope of lifting profits, which have been battered by competition from all sides.

GoPro became an early hit with extreme sports enthusiasts who used the mini-cameras to film their exploits, and went on to win over teens and young adults interested in sharing videos on YouTube and social networks.

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