Taking a cue from Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, Snapchat is dropping hints that’s it’s ready to try its hand on its first augmented reality hardware product. Long time users are already familiar with the app’s use of AR tech: it seamlessly superimposes virtual images on top of images using the app’s filters or lenses that can be added as masks (besides emojis and drawings) to user’s selfies and pictures. The messaging app has ignited speculation as it joined the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the group that manages devices and services incorporating Bluetooth wireless technology. With Snapchat listed as a member on the Bluetooth SIG’s site, Financial Times reported that companies planning to launch a wireless device would join the membership, as Bluebooth is a way for wearable devices to connect to a smartphone.
Financial Times and CNET reported that it came from a bout of hiring team members from the AR departments of GoPro, Oculus, Sphero (the robotics developer behind the Star Wars BB-8 toy), Google’s Aura Labs and Logitech. But can it pull off sales profit? Google stopped its sales of Google Glass three years after its launch 2012, perhaps due its hefty $1500 price tag (TechRadar). Perhaps unlike Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens, Snapchat could be leaning on a stylish and fashionable pair of AR glasses. In 2014, the ephemeral content sharing app acquired startup Vengence Labs for $15 million, and before its acquisition, the startup, which makes Google Glass-like products, released the Epiphany Eyewear collection range of fashionable glasses that can record video of up to 32GB footage.
According to Business Insider, Evan Spiegel, Snapchat’s Chief Executive has been photographed with what appears to be a pair of the glasses during the summer. Though the Financial Times reported at the possibility of Snapchat building a prototype AR headset, the startup has not confirmed or denied whether or not it is a developing a wearable device. With its 150 million daily active users, perhaps it has a better chance to take AR headsets to the masses for mainstream use.