The Spectacles Experience

The spectacles of experience; through them you will see clearly a second time.
Henrik Ibsen

Just a quick acknowledgment, I am not affiliated with Snap, Inc. and this is not a product review. My intent is just to focus on the experience, execution, and product design of the Spectacles.

Make Purchasing Fun, Simple, and Memorable

The happy bots and staff waiting in the NYC pop-up shop.
All watching eye and three color selection buttons on the vending machines.

To start, Snap, Inc. has created a great hype bubble with its approach to marketing and distributing the Spectacles product. Down to the detail of utilizing a vending machine character similar to the bright yellow minions of despicable me, the overall approach to the Spectacles product envelopes “fun”. The message continues as a person approaches a vending machine for purchase, instantly welcomed with the vending machine character and its eye. In picking a color by pressing one of three very large buttons, the eye becomes a video mirror of the purchasing individual and those around you virtually wearing them.

Following inserting a credit card, (no cash inserts) the machine will make some quirky noises chirping and spinning its eye while processing leading to the light up of the small flap to open where you can pick up the purchased Spectacles. Wrapping up, a colorful rainbow receipt prints out.


Make a Product’s Packaging Fun, Intentional, and Useful

When looking at the packing of Snap, Inc.’s Spectacles, they’re housed in what resembles a clear plastic tennis ball container. The only visible contents are a bright yellow triangular case inside.

Opened container and case contents.

The case itself is a clever contraption on its own, with magnets fastening it shut similar to a MacBook and a small connector spot on the back for a magnetic charger resembling Magsafe chargers. That means the case itself is a charger for the sunglasses.

Back side of Spectacles case where the case charger connects.

To check the battery status of the case, owners can press the yellow button on the side to reveal a number of LED lights indicating the level of charge.

Side button for the case’s battery level indicator.
Spectacles in the case.

Upon lifting the case open, you’re presented with the Spectacles in the color of your choosing and a small wrap containing the short setup steps, a cleaning cloth (shaped in a familiar ghost figure), and the charging cable.

Magnetic charge connector for the Spectacles.
Spectacles magnetic connector on the sunglasses with the case.

In stepping back and looking at the entirety of the product Snap, Inc. presents, you cannot help but feel satisfied with the presentation, packaging, and execution down to the detail in the shape of the case, which is by far better than any of the kinds of cases my own prescription glasses have come in, allowing them to be securely seated. The magnets at the sides and a magnetic charging connector on the right fasten the sunglasses securely within the case.

Complete contents within the Spectacles packaging. (Legal information, instructions, cleaning cloth (ghost), charging cable and Spectacles sunglasses.)

Make a Product Fun, Relevant, and Easy

For the main focus and fun, the sunglasses themselves. The Spectacles approach a similar structure as the Snapchat app did in its early days, a focus on a minimum viable product (MVP) and grow from understanding the activity of users. This has proven well for the app and is proving well for the Spectacles product. In its early stage, Snapchat provided a camera that had the basic functionality of a disappearing photo, adding writing/drawing on photos with limitations of a basic color picker and an undo button. These constraints brought a wealth of creativity among users while the app executed maintained its focus well. Snapchat has come along with new integrations with Bitmojis, chat, augmented lenses, etc., but each with well-implemented progression.

The sunglasses feel similar to standard sunglasses with little-added weight but a sturdy feeling build when wearing them. These are a one-size option, but I have not had an issue with fit and they feel secure when wearing them, with little to no movement or slip in typical movement and bending over.

Left lens LED indicator and camera button.

The Spectacles mimic this simplistic entry approach, housing a single button at the left temple of the sunglasses to activate the camera for 10 seconds of recording (20 seconds on two presses and a max of 30 seconds on three presses). In front of this button is a circular LED that acts as both a battery level readout and notification to those in front when the camera is active. (Tapping the on the side of the sunglasses activate the battery level status of on the LED circular readout.)

Inside light indicating the camera is active to the wearer.

When you flip to the inside of the sunglasses, a small indicator light notifies the wearer the camera is active and flashes when there are two seconds left in the recording. The camera itself is housed in the left lens/temple of the sunglasses and contains no led lights or buttons.

Spectacles camera.

After activating the camera and finishing recording, the snaps are generally, uploaded right away to your phone, if you keep Bluetooth on so your Spectacles maintain a constant connection with your device in the background (I personally only have an iPhone 7 Plus to test with). This allows you to continue recording new sessions and come back to Snapchat later for editing and posting your recordings in the app later. It has been identified that the glasses can hold a day’s worth of recordings without need a charge, however, I have not seen what a “days worth of recording” amounts to.

The recordings really do shine within Snapchat, no surprise. With the recordings in a circular video format, audiences on Snapchat are able to spin their phones in seeing a wider view of recordings. In addition, with the many stickers and effects, you can add more interest to your recordings for users to engage with as they are spinning or turning their phone while viewing.

SD video recording to GIF.

Spectacles recordings default to uploading standard definition (SD) to your phone while requiring some extra work in order to download the HD recordings. Snapchat utilizes the SD versions of recordings for stories and sharing, but the benefits of accessing the HD recordings are exporting the videos from the Snapchat app to use outside for things like Instagram or Twitter.

This has been a little tricky for me at times due to the process, as iPhone users have to tap “Get HD” in Snapchat, wait for the app to activate a Wi-Fi network from the Spectacles, then you need to go to your settings and connect to this Wi-Fi network. Finally, when connected, you jump back into Snapchat and wait for the videos to download.

Overall, when it comes to the device itself, Snap has really killed it, providing ease of use, simplicity, and ultimately a refined design of a product that truly delivers an experience. Many claims acknowledge that Snap, Inc’s. Spectacles are just an introduction, experimentation, and play product into the realm of technology outside of their software. If this is the case, I look forward to the future of Snap, Inc. and its developments, as this initiates a great jump-off for what is to come.

HD video recording to GIF.

No product is without flaws, however, most of the complaints I have read regarding these are a lack of “more”. This includes the fact there are no lenses accessible with the glasses after recording such as the environmental effects of falling snow or stars, you are left with the typical filters of temperature, time, altitude, etc.

No doubt “more” may be down the line, but for now, there are very few complaints from my end that result mostly in my hair getting in the way and the importing sometimes being troublesome. Other than that, I personally feel I need to have a more exciting life or start traveling more to really put these to use and extend the fun for the sake of using them more.

LED charging indicator on Spectacles while resting in the case.

Snap, Inc. has made a great entry product that is not for everyone but is commendable in all stages of product execution and design from a company. From the marketing hype of a single vending bot being dropped in different locations throughout the country for (exclusive) purchase to the experience of buying a product from a machine, Snap, Inc. has given audiences a unique experience start to finish that maintains thematic consistency and entertainment throughout each phase of the product. I have to give kudos to Snap, Inc. for creating more than just a product but a complete experience atop a well-designed product and packaging.


For more information from Snap, Inc. check out their website: https://www.spectacles.com

To track the changing location of the vending bot: https://www.spectacles.com/map/

The three stationary bots in the New York pop-up are located at: 
Spectacles, 5 E 59th St, New York, NY 10022

If you’ve been lucky enough at scoring a pair of these feel free to comment below on your experience! ❤️

And feel free to add me on Snapchat! 👻: joshuastoner