Here are all the clues we’ve found about Snapchat’s secret smart glasses

source
Snapchat

Snapchat’s hardware ambitions are supposed to be a secret. Yet, there have been enough clues left behind (thanks to a combination of LinkedIn and the Sony hack) for us to begin piecing together a picture of what exactly Snapchat is up to.

The company started its eyewear ambitions as early as 2014, and most recently joined a Bluetooth special interest group as an “adopter” – an indicator that it’s going to use that technology potentially in its secret glasses.

Here’s what we know so far about Snapchat’s secretive hardware plans:


Snapchat’s hardware ambitions started in March 2014 when it paid $15 million for Vergence Labs, a company that made glasses that could record video (pictured below on a model).

source
Epiphany Eyewear

The acquisition was supposed to be a secret, but it came to light in the aftermath of the Sony hacks.

Deal terms in Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton’s (a Snapchat board member) emails suggest Snapchat paid $15 million for the company, with $11 million of the price in cash and $4 million in stock.


Vergence Labs was famous for its “Epiphany Eyewear”, a line of smart glasses that could record video and store up to 32GB of data.

source
Epiphany Eyewear

Of the Vergence Labs team, several employees, including one of its cofounders, still work at Snapchat.


At the time, no one knew why Snapchat had bought a glasses company, but one of its investors had talked about an easy way to share from a smart device to Snapchat. “People haven’t thought about use cases on new computing platforms. In one tap you take a photo, one more and you can share it. Imagine [the difficulty] trying to post on Instagram from a Google Glass device,” Thomas Laffont, managing director of Coatue, told Forbes in 2014.

source
Kyle Russell/Business Insider

Source


Following the Vergence Labs acquisition, Snapchat also hired Lauryn Morris, an eyewear designer that had designed sunglasses for Zac Posen and Michael Kors. She’s been at the company since November 2014, according to LinkedIn.

source
Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images

Her website bio is all about building a wearable device: “I’m an industrial designer with a decade’s worth of experience designing consumer products including several years focusing on eyewear design and other wearable objects. I have a keen interest in wearable technology and multi-sensory devices and enjoy exploring the relationship between technology, fashion and function.”


The buzz around Snapchat’s hardware projects died down until March 2016when CNET was first to piece together a string of recent hires with the earlier Vergence Labs acquisitions. The company has been on a tear this year, hiring wearable technology experts from companies like GoPro, Nokia, and Qualcomm’s Vuforia team, which specialized in AR/VR projects.

source
Snapchat

It’s still hiring for two open positions in its “Snap Lab” department — although all Snapchat employees involved in the project have washed their LinkedIn profiles of any tell-tale words.

caption
A Snap Lab’s job description
source
Snapchat

It was only after CNET’s story broke that a source told Business Insider that Snapchat’s Snap Glasses had been hiding in plain sight all along. CEO Evan Spiegel had worn them on a trip with his now-fiancee Miranda Kerr when the paparazzi photographed them together.

source
AKM-GSI/Business Insider

That was an early prototype though, and since then, a source tells Business Insider they’ve evolved to look more like Wayfarer sunglasses. Now that Snapchat is listed as an “adopter” of Bluetooth technology, there’s speculation that it’ll use Bluetooth to connect with the app — getting one step closer to making it seamless to post to Snapchat.

caption
CEO Evan Spiegel in his normal shades.
source
Reuters

Do you know more about Snapchat’s plans? Email the reporter at bcarson@businessinsider.com.