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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Millennials rejoice: Snapchat revealed its new Spectacles

Millennials rejoice: Snapchat revealed its new Spectacles

As the media would label it, being a 20-something tech-savvy gal and all, I’m a “millennial.” I was born in the early 1990s, so I’m a narcissistic baby by old people standards. When once upon a time grown-ass men were busily playing Doom (1993), I was barely walking, giggling as I first confronted the world being the small sub-human that I once was (and continue to be). Regardless, like most other incessantly shit-upon youth, I use Snapchat. I don’t use it as much as my peers, like my old coworker who goes clubbing seemingly every night. He’s always Snapchatting himself as he dances to Kamaiyah and his drink splashes a teensy bit on the dance floor. Despite my lack of actual engagement with it, Snapchat is still resting on my phone’s homepage, where I can always catch brief glimpses of the much more exciting lives my friends lead.

Alas, Snapchat reinvigorated social media for young’uns like myself and my old colleague. It’s more ephemeral than any other app, where fleeting moments are celebrated. Filters exist, but they’ve never been the focal point as they once were with Instagram. But Snapchat isn’t interested in preserving memories like every other piece of social media—it wants you to relish in the moment, in the now. Share that concert you’re at, that funny thing you saw, nudes (well, try not to on the Snap), augmented reality selfies, whatever. It doesn’t really matter, because it’ll all be gone once that 24-hour window passes ‘round. That playful, cursory ideology is part of what makes Snap Inc.’s (the company’s new, rebranded title) latest creation feel right at home.

Spectacles aren’t being broadcast as the future of technology

After months of sneaky reports and speculation, Snap Inc. have officially revealed their fancy new hardware: Spectacles—a practical, sensical name by all means. Spectacles are outfitted with a small 115-degree angle camera, similar to our own eyes’ view, prime to capturing up to 10 seconds of circular video at a time. The glasses can connect to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and voila, you have a shareable, bite-sized, rounded clip on your hands.

In what may be Spectacles’ biggest improvement over other eyeglass-tech failures, they don’t look incredibly stupid while plastered on your face. Instead, they look like any ol’ pair of glasses (aside from the tiny lens in the corner). Plus, Spectacles aren’t even being broadcasted as the future of technology, kind of like how Snapchat didn’t push to be an earth-shattering social media either. As CEO Evan Spiegel told the Wall Street Journal, the device is more relaxed, like “a toy, to be worn for kicks at a barbecue or an outdoor concert.” It doesn’t hurt that the frames are semi-affordable too, priced around $130. That’s less than a classic pair of Ray-Bans.

Spectacles, probably not coming to a store near you.
Spectacles, probably not coming to a store near you.

Whenever news of something Snapchat-related circulates, I feel like I’m plagued with reading or hearing about a chorus of adults raising their eyebrows due to the mysticism surrounding its ominous, primarily millennial user-base. Young people like and engage with a technological thing? How dare they. Yet with such a young audience, older demographics being alienated by new technology pretty much comes with the territory

Naysayers or not, Spectacles are still inherently stylish. Their black, coral, and teal-hued circular frames will be a familiar shape to anyone that has bought a pair of sunglasses in the past few years, which has led to potentially one of the most cringe-worthy quotes you’ll read about their fashion-minded design. “If you look at the kinds of glasses millennials wear, the design is very ‘in’,” the consumer technology analyst Carolina Milanesi from Creative Strategies told the BBC. And yes, I guess I too love being an ‘in,’ Snapchat-loving #millennial. Now, excuse me while I throw on my #Spectacles for a dog-ear filtered #selfie. But first, I must address the mountain of student loan debt overshadowing our existence. You know, #JustMillennialThings.

While there’s no AR in these frames as reports once hinted, it does lay the stepping stones to that being in the future. You can read more about Snap Inc.’s Spectacles, Snapchat, and other big changes on their blog. Spectacles will roll out in a limited quantity this fall for $129.99.

Versions is brought to you by Nod Labs,
Precision wireless controllers for your virtual, augmented and actual reality.
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