Snapchat Spectacles


Photo courtesy of The Next Web

Neil Bondoc, Photojournalist

Few accessories are more important for the summer than a stylish pair of sunglasses. But the Snapchat Spectacles ($130) do a lot more than just protect your eyes. The Spectacles have an embedded camera that lets you record 10-second videos of all of your summertime fun and share them via the Snapchat app on your iPhone or Android device. Ryan Donnell states, “ the spectacles are a nice new innovative way for snapping.”

Cracking open the Snapchat Spectacles, internal hardware is stored in two compartments mounted on either side of the frame, above and behind the lenses. The battery, charging circuitry, LED indicator lights and record button contact are located in the left compartment. On the right, are the camera, microphone, and the integrated circuits that make these sunglasses smarter than your average shades. A thin ribbon cable runs through the frame and across the bridge, that part that runs over your nose, connecting the two sides.

First to come out was the battery, to which a small circuit board is attached. This board contains power management ICs and the LED indicator light that lets the wearer know when the camera is recording. The most prominent chip on these boards is the Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 that provides wireless connectivity. The main circuit board, camera, and microphone, in the right compartment are all connected to a metal bracket. It also contains an Ambarella A12 camera system-on-chip (SoC), with embedded ARM Cortex A9 CPU, and a Kingston 04EPOP04-EL3BM627 memory chip.

Just how crazy did demand get? CNBC notes that the glasses were selling for up to $5,000 on secondary markets, adding that its own reporters stood in line for 18 hours to get them. There’s a limit of six per household for the new online purchases. Snap has said the glasses haven’t been big money-makers, but TechCrunch thinks the new move is designed to show prospective IPO investors that they could be. The vending machines will go on hiatus for awhile, but they’re expected to resurface eventually.

What the teardown tells us is that it’s more delicate than an average pair of spectacles, the battery life is long thanks to the low-power components, and the tech is similar to police body cameras. “Simply having a gadget, a technology device that I wear as an eyeglass, that’s an important barrier to break for us,” said Hugo Swart, Qualcomm’s senior director of product management for AR and VR.