Pokemon GO may be augmented reality’s killer app, but Snapchat has been using the tech for far longer than people have been hunting monsters using their phone, and the company’s latest move suggests it may be ready to go deeper.
The Financial Times revealed Snapchat is now a member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). This isn’t an exclusive group; companies must become a member if they’re planning to release hardware utilizing Bluetooth technology. In fact, the SIG passed over 30,000 members earlier this year, all of which either have or are creating products using Bluetooth tech. Just by joining the group, then, Snapchat is fueling speculation that it may soon be releasing its own hardware.
The company apparently joined at the free ‘adopter’ level tier, which provides them with the license to use Bluetooth in hardware.
Snapchat is positioning itself as a big player in augmented reality, so by extension it seems like this hardware could be some sort of wearable that either enhances the experience you see in the traditional app or perhaps offers its own standalone version of it, like an AR headset or glasses. In fact, the company acquired a startup working on its own pair of AR glasses back in 2014. Named Vergence Labs, the group was developing a device that was said to be similar to the ill-fated Google Glass.
On phones, Snapchat allows you to take pictures of yourself or friends using AR overlays — the company even added a VR headset to its exhaustive list of filters a few months back. Could we see some sort of headset that uses AR to add these sorts of filters to faces wherever you look? That certainly sounds amusing if perhaps a little one-dimensional for an entirely new device. Software companies sometimes make the leap to hardware to secure a more direct relationship with consumers and any such gadget from Snapchat would likely redefine how people think about the company.
Back in June we reported Snapchat had acquired a 3D model capture company known as Seene. Its tech allows users to capture 3D models on a phone just using its camera. Among other things, it can be used for fast, accurate face mapping, bringing realistic human faces into virtual environments. It’s certainly interesting to think about how this kind of tech might apply to any kind of headset; perhaps Snapchat could have its own contender in the mixed reality (MR) market with this rumored device?
Either way, watching this hugely popular software company make the transition into hardware will no doubt be fascinating to watch.