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Snap unveils all-new Spectacles with built-in augmented reality

The glasses can match Snapchat Lenses to your surroundings — but they aren't for sale.

Screenshot / Snap

Snapchat just showed off its long rumored augmented reality-enabled Spectacles. The latest glasses are the fourth iteration of Spectacles, but the first to have augmented reality features built in. CEO Evan Spiegel unveiled the new glasses at the company’s annual Partner Summit event, saying they now have the ability to “realistically ground digital objects in the physical world.”

The glasses are equipped with two cameras, four microphones, two stereo speakers and touchpad controls. The displays are “dual 3D waveguide displays” that allow the wearer to view and interact with AR elements. The glasses also connect directly to Snapchat’s AR Lenses and its Lens Studio platform.

“Spectacles understands what's in their field of view and suggests relevant Lenses based on what's around you,” Spiegel said. “You can then snap the scene and send it to your friends to share the full picture.”

Snapchat Lenses are built into the new Specatcles.

Like Spectacles 3, the company seems to be positioning the glasses as a tool for creators rather than everyday Snapchat users. Spiegel said the company has already been testing the glasses with a group of creators and artists. But unlike other versions of Spectacles, the new glasses aren’t for sale — at least not yet. Snap published a form on its website for Spectacles that allows creators who want to use the glasses to request a pair, but it states that the “new Spectacles are not for sale.”

That’s not terribly surprising considering the new frames look significantly bulkier than previous generations of Spectacles (the latest glasses weigh 134 grams, according to Snap). And the extra tech likely means the price would be considerably more than the already-pricey $380 Spectacles 3. It also sounds like battery life may be an issue, as Spiegel said they can be used for “approximately 30 minutes at a time.”

Instead, Snap seems to be hoping the Spectacles will inspire new types of AR development (and perhaps inform future AR glasses). Using Lens Studio, creators can design new AR effects for the glasses and push them directly to the frames for testing. Even so, the new Spectacles are a major step forward for Snap, which has long said it wants to integrate its camera platform into hardware. We may still not know exactly how that will take shape, but bringing AR into its glasses for the first time will help make that a reality.