Snapchat’s new Spectacles are all the rage right now, and Apple has decided it wants in on the action. Over the last week or so, people have lined up for hours in California and Oklahoma for a chance to snag a pair of Snapchat’s video camera sunglasses from a bright yellow vending machine. Since Google stopped selling Glass in 2015, Snapchat is pretty much the only major brand with video-shades on the market, and rumor has it Apple is considering a foray into the smart glasses realm (though hopefully with a different retail strategy).
Rumors of Apple smart glasses have been circulating for a while, and today Bloomberg offered up some more evidence that the company is taking the idea seriously.
Apple patented a design for smart glasses that could assist with note taking way back in 2015. Sure, Apple patents pretty much everything, but the smart glasses concept has clearly been tossed around by Apple engineers. Apple employees say the company has been talking with suppliers, and has even ordered samples of displays.
Apple has a lot to learn from the successes and failures of its predecessors in the smart glasses market. Spectacles have proven to be enormously popular so far, thanks to a lot of hype and the singular purpose of the glasses. Spectacles solely exist to shoot video for the Snapchat app, and design was clearly a priority for Snapchat.
Google Glass, on the other hand, ran into a lot of problems. The battery life was abysmal, there were privacy concerns, and the design made people look like doofuses. The next iteration of Google Glass is aimed at businesses, rather than the average consumer.
We won’t see these Apple glasses until 2018 at the earliest, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has confirmed that some kind of augmented reality product is in the works. If Apple can design a pair of glasses that offer a useful A.R. experience and don’t make the wearer look like a cyborg wannabe, the devices might just become mainstream.
Photos via US Patent Office, Getty Images / Sean Gallup, Getty Images / Stephen Lam