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WTF are Snapchat Spectacles?

If you haven’t a clue what Snapchat Spectacles are, don’t worry. We had a similar debate in the office whether to publish this piece on Gearburn or Memeburn. But luckily, the social outweighed the gadgetry. We also imagine that this is exactly what Snapchat (or its parent company, now known as Snap) wanted too.

Debuting on 10 November 2016 (just in time for people to get over the US Elections), Snapchat Spectacles is the company’s jovial answer to smart wearables like Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens. But it’s much simpler than those devices.

In fact, these US$130 sunglasses do two things and two things alone: make you look like the most stylish hipster ever, and publish snaps exclusively to the social network.

How do you get them?

The company’s debut hardware project was first made available from a vending machine at Venice Beach, California this week. Also, these vending machines are known as Snapbots and seem oddly inspired by banana-loving animated creatures.

Nevertheless, according to TechCrunch, these Snapbots are also part of the charm.

“The mouth on the anthropomorphized commerce vector lights up when your Specs are dispensed, and the bot also distributes a paper receipt so you can expense your first-person video fashion sunware as the legitimate business purchase they definitely are,” quips the publication.

What do they do?

Beyond the smart vending machine, Snapchat Spectacles are actually pretty nifty.

They’re programmed to work exclusively with Snapchat (obviously), and come with a camera and a button to activate said camera. For the more jargon-hungry, the camera boasts a 115-degree lens (slightly narrower than the LG G5’s wide-angle snapper, but wider than most smartphone cameras), and a currently unknown sensor size.

Snapchat Spectacles are semi-smart sunglasses that take snaps and upload them to your account

Tapping the button prompts the glasses to record a 30-second snap, which is uploaded to your Snapchat account. This is done by connecting to your host device (be it an Android or iOS phone) via WiFi or Bluetooth.

Rather intelligently, the specs also store Snaps until you upload them, and charge in their carry case, which makes them slightly smarter than they seem.

They’re also quite fashionable, available in three colour variants — coral, teal and black. There’s sadly no Snapchat-yellow option.

Are they coming to South Africa?

While 2016 has thrown up its fair share of surprises, we can probably say it won’t be coming to SA any time soon.

Snap does suggest that the company will be moving these Snapbots across the US to tourist hubs, so if you’re on holiday in the States, you might be able to grab one. The company hasn’t yet suggested that these will be sold across the world.

But you may be able to pick up a pair online, if you’re willing to sacrifice your December bonus. According to Bloomberg though, Snapchat Spectacles are currently flooding eBay, with opportunistic entrepreneurs selling the bespoke specs for upwards of R11 000.

Some requests by eBay users are also pretty hilarious, with users from as far abroad as Australia wanting part of the fun.

Author | Andy Walker: Gearburn Editor

Andy Walker: Gearburn Editor
Camper by day, run-and-gunner by night, Andy prefers his toast like his coffee -- dark and crunchy. Specialising in spotting the next big Instagram cat star, Andy also dabbles in smartphone and game reviews over on Gearburn. More