​New Snap Spectacles bring true AR to the table

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Snap has unveiled the fourth generation of its Spectacles, and it’s introduced true AR for the first time.

The social media giant behind Snapchat has been one of the biggest drivers of smartglasses, albeit with mixed success. But while the company has championed wearables for the face, it’s stopped short of true AR tech – until now.

The new Snap Spectacles are a huge design divergence from the previous generations. Gone are the fun, brash and brightly colored designs that were primarily for recording and sharing content. The new specs are angular and futuristic, no less of a statement, and actually quite stylish as AR glasses go.

Under the hood the new Snap Specs run the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 processor, which is designed for AR devices. That’s the same platform as we’ve seen announced for the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 and Qualcomm’s own reference platform that was shown off in April.

But the specs don’t quite match up to this being the breakthrough AR device, and perhaps inevitably, these new Specs are only heading to developers for now.

New Snap Spectacles bring true AR to the table

The FOV is just 26.3 degrees, so you won’t get much AR in your vision although 2000 nits of brightness will help with outdoor use. The Snap Spatial Engine allows for six degrees of freedom, that enable you to move around and the visuals overlay in your space. There are two RGB cameras and a touchpad on the arms.

The glasses weigh just 134 grams (half that of Magic Leap) but only boast 30 mins of battery life – something you’d expect to see addressed if there was to be a wider release.

The Snap AR Specs are another waypoint en route to an AR future, but another that emphasises how far we are from consumer-ready tech. Are these glasses people would want to wear out? Is there any sign of mass market features? We can’t see any here.

But they are a visual improvement over most AR devices – so that’s a start at least.

There’s no lack of interest in the AR space. Rival social giant Facebook has confirmed it’s working on AR hardware that will follow non-AR specs, and Apple is certainly working on the technology, albeit with no official announcements.

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