Snapchat has unveiled a new version of its augmented reality (AR) glasses Spectacles. The company says the technology will overlay virtual items onto the real world in front of the wearer.
Previous versions of Spectacles have focused on taking photos and videos from a first-person perspective, but Snap Inc co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel said this recent version would enable people to “bring their imagination to life”.
While wearing the Spectacles, users will see Snapchat lenses and other virtual items appear in front of them as if actually placed in the physical world. But Snapchat said the new Spectacles are currently not for sale and instead aimed at AR creators and developers who build Snapchat lenses.
The firm also unveiled plans to make its camera more inclusive and better at capturing different skin tones. Spiegel said the platform was building new camera software that worked for all users “regardless of who they are and what they look like”.
The announcement comes as the social media platform revealed over 280 million people now use it globally every day, and over 500 million every month – with around 40 per cent of the Snapchat user base now found outside North America and Europe.
“As we continue to develop new experiences for Snapchatters, it’s the trust that we have built with our community over the last decade that allows us to experiment with new technologies,” Spiegel said. “With the evolution of the camera from a communications tool to an augmented reality platform – that trust has never been more important.”
He added that the way the firm tries to improve on its business model is by looking critically at its products to make sure they are inclusive of all members of our global community. “The camera itself was initially optimised to capture the appearance of white skin,” he explained. “While cameras have evolved and become better at capturing different skin tones, there is a lot more work to do. And we are determined to contribute to these efforts.”
Spiegel also highlighted the environment as a key area of focus for the company – revealing the firm was now carbon neutral and committed to launching an in-app educational awareness campaign later this year on the environment.
During the summit, Snapchat announced a wide range of updates, features, and new tools for the app and developers, including a new Story Studio app which will give users a range of professional editing tools to make content to be posted on Snapchat.
Snapchat’s Reesha Sodha said the new app would offer a “suite of easy to use, powerful editing tools to make professional content for mobile, on mobile”. “It’s a fast and fun way to make original, engaging vertical videos that share right to Snapchat – and anywhere else,” she added.
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