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Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Snapchat might be developing AR glasses after all

fake snapglasses
Snapchat might be developing AR glasses after all

Snapchat is kind of like the dark horse of AR technology. People attribute AR’s recent success to other things, like Pokémon Go, while ignoring the fact that Snapchat’s mostly-silly face-filtering tech has been around for much longer, and is evolving more and more by the day. What started with mere puppy dog ears and low-poly flower crowns, has since evolved into realistic makeup, accessories, and flattering lighting for Snapchat’s ephemeral selfies. And it’s all accessible with the mere swipe of a finger. Snapchat is now rumored to be quietly making another big step for AR: AR-infused glasses, according to Vanity Fair.

hush-hush development of Snapchat-infused glasses

Snapchat has been sneakily flirting with the idea of bespectacled tech for awhile now, far before other AR technologies started finding their footing. In the year 2014, the fleeting photo app acquired Vergence Labs, a smart-glasses producing company, for $15 million (a drop in the hat for a company now valued at $18 billion). In the most recent news to plague Snapchat’s shadowy plans comes from The Financial Times, who report that Snapchat has joined up with a Bluetooth group. Partnering up with Bluetooth, Snapchat would have access to wireless capabilities—ripe for glasses-like hardware.

Nowadays, when CEO Evan Spiegel isn’t canoodling with his supermodel girlfriend while wearing mysterious tech-enabled glasses, Snapchat’s looking to expand their team. Among the few recent eyebrow-raising hires at Snapchat include eyewear designer Lauryn Morries, Dan Stein (who was instrumental in recruiting developers of wearables, including the Google Glass, for Google’s Project Aura), and a handful of former Nokia hardware designers. On Snapchat’s jobs site, they’re also hiring a “3D Computer Vision Engineer” under the experimental Snap Lab division. What that job specifically entails could be anyone’s guess, but given the vagueness of the description, it wouldn’t be surprising to assume that it’s under the company’s hush-hush development of Snapchat-infused glasses.

Snapchat only has one lens example in their press kit, and this is it I guess.
Snapchat only has one lens example in their press kit, and this is it I guess.

The primary purposes of Snapchat’s elusive glasses-tech remains unknown. If one were to guess, it’d take their already omnipresent everyday functionality of AR to the reality we don’t see through a smartphone lens, but to the one we actually see through our very own eyes. Imagine chatting with a friend, but seeing them wearing a perpetual, over exaggerated frown. Or shopping in a makeup store, and pining to see how a certain lipstick looks. With the Snapchat glasses, you could view it on yourself instantly instead of going through the hassle to physically try it on. Or, just goof off and put those frowns on everyone.

Who knows when we’ll be graced with “SnapGlasses,” but you can read more of Vanity Fair’s report on them here.

Header image: “黒目線眼鏡” by Tatsuo Yamashita is licensed under CC by 2.0. Image modified by Caty McCarthy.

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