My experience with Snapchat’s Spectacles

I got the Spectacles over Christmas thanks to my good friend Carlos. Back then, it was difficult to buy them because Snap was playing a genius scarcity game.

Today you can buy a pair online and get them delivered to your home in 1-2 weeks. Gone are those days when the Spectacles would sell on eBay for $3000.

Now, you might be thinking: “should I get them?” Let me help you.

Have you ever had a vacation to a sunny place, taking pictures here and there to immortalize the scenery? Having your phone with you all day might not be convenient, especially if you want to disconnect.

Have you ever been at a wedding where everyone is looking at their recording phones? Most of these people end up having just the memory of what their camera saw, not their eyes.

Can you think of a summer day when you hiked through a trail with breathtaking views? Getting your hands busy to take pictures might be uncomfortable and even dangerous.

I have been in these situations, and the weird-looking sunglasses truly allow me to be in the moment while capturing the memory.

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Will Snapchat’s Spectacles succeed?

Snapchat’s first hardware product was leaked on Friday and surprised everyone: new company name (Snap Inc. for Wall Street folks) and a $130 wireless-connected video-recording sunglasses.

I’m not sure if the company decided to officially announce the new product that same day to avoid losing the momentum created by the leak, but they knew how to do it: an exclusive interview for the Wall Street Journal.

So the biggest question is: will it succeed? Will people buy the Spectacles? Evan Spiegel (Snap’s CEO) downplayed the importance of the announcement by saying that the Spectacles are a “toy” and that the release would be slow.

The company is probably being cautious because of previous market failures like Google Glass. But is this a comparable product? I don’t think so.

Google Glass had a price tag of $1500, an aura of “for developers only” and a futuristic design that didn’t appeal to everyone. Snapchat’s Spectacles are cheap even for a teenager (yes, that same teenager that has an iPhone), have a playful design and are easy to use: just press a button to start recording whatever you are looking at.

Google Glass also failed because of the privacy issues that it raised – am I being recorded right now by that guy? The recording indicator was too soft, so subtle that it creeped people out. The Spectacles have a prominent light when they are recording.

So will it succeed? I think the better question is: will Snap produce the Spectacles fast enough to supply the demand from those teenagers that spend hours glued to their Snapchat app?

Image via Snap Inc.

3 things I didn’t know about the Apple Watch

After one week wearing the Apple Watch, I can reaffirm my comments on why I believe it will be a success. It may not be the first smartwatch to reach the market, nor the most complete in terms of features, but one thing is clear: Apple has done what it does best, create a simple but delightful experience with a product category that other competitors have already tried mastering.

I had read tons of articles and reviews before getting an Apple Watch of my own, and yet this first week I discovered a few things, good and bad, that surprised me. These are the top 3:

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Why the Apple Watch will be a success

Apple announced during its last earnings report that it sold 74.5 million iPhone units in 2015’s first fiscal quarter. Let that number settle in.

As CNN Money wrote, that means “34,000 iPhones sold every hour, every day, every week of the past three months. That’s 9 iPhones every second.

But that’s not it, Apple also sold 51 million iPhones only in 2014’s first fiscal quarter, and 47.8 million units the year before, which means that there are over 170 million potential customers for the Apple Watch.

Now, I know that doesn’t mean every iPhone user will get an Apple Watch, especially since smartwatches sales are having a rough start (only 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped in 2014). There are, however, 2 points that I believe will make a difference in Apple’s case.

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I bought a smartwatch as an experiment, and I liked it

Smartwatch sales are set to explode by 2020, according to a NextMarket Insights report from 2013. And according to a more recent CCS Insight’s global forecast, “by 2018 over 250 million smart wearables will be in use, 14 times more than in 2013.”

That’s a lot of people and a lot of wearables. What will these gadgets do? A lot of things apparently:

Let’s reflect on one aspect: “50% of wearables sold by 2018 will be smartwatches.” That’s impressive, considering that most people today don’t even know what to do with a smartwatch. The cultural change is going to be massive.

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Wearables are not for everyone

Tell me, do you find interesting a watch that monitors your blood glucose levels or your heartbeats? I don’t. Sure, I’d be interested in knowing how it works but, would I buy one just because of that? No.

Since all the rumors of the iWatch started, I got really excited about the possibilities. I imagined a light wristband that I could use to talk to Siri and check my phone notifications without taking it out of my pocket. Now all I hear about is sleep patterns, glucose levels and heartbeats. Not my cup of tea.

Don’t get me wrong, I like activity trackers, I own a Fitbit One after all. But its gamification factor is what actually caught my attention. If it was all about accounting for my daily steps, I would have already stopped using it, but competing with my friends makes the whole experience a new one each day. I completely agree with Alvaro that smart sensors are the future: little gadgets making our lives easier, more productive or even more fun, is the next big thing.

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The next battle is not just about wearables but smart sensors

This year’s CES was filled with tons of interesting technologies such as bendable super-high-resolution TVs, new computers that have multiple OSs, wearables, and other cool stuff. What really caught my attention was the hype around smart sensors: every year there is a lot of hype about certain technologies that do not stick (remember 3D?), but I think this one is going to, although not how we think it will.

There is a lot of chatter around wearables, but I think it is a limiting term if we think about the core technology: the smart sensor. A wearable is just a series of sensors that can process data in the environment and communicate with the user and a network fitted to be on a human. The Fitbit is a great example of this, it hangs in your wrist and senses step movements and altitude changes, which it then processes and gives the user clear actionable data through the LED screen and through their apps (web and mobile). Another example of a wearable is the Mimo baby monitor which is embedded in a pajama and keeps track of your baby’s vitals and lets you know if anything goes wrong through your mobile device.

Another buzz word going on around right now is the Internet of Things. Whenever there is a new buzz word, everybody tries to define it. For me, it’s comprised of two categories: the first is the miniaturization of a PC/Mobile Device (think of an ATM or Auto dashboard) and the second is the application of smart sensors. This second one has a huge potential and wearables are part of this category even though the industry thinks they are not.

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