Instagram will have to work a lot harder to copy Snapchat this time around: There are clues that the photo-sharing social phenomenon may be developing its own hardware.
Sources have previously stated that Snapchat is “very serious” about moving into hardware. A list by CNET shows a number of key hires early in 2016 that suggested the company may be building its own set of smart glasses (similar to Google Glass, but with Snapchat’s easy and intuitive photo and video capabilities). Recent hires at the start of 2016 include former recruiter for Microsoft Hololens Mark Dixon, former Qualcomm augmented reality team member Eitan Pilipski, and (perhaps most tellingly) eyewear designer for Michael Kors and Zac Posen, Lauryn Morris.
It appears that Snapchat’s project was hiding in plain sight: Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel was photographed wearing sunglasses that appeared to be suspiciously camera-equipped – and look similar to the glasses once made by Vergence Labs, a company that made video-recording-capable eyewear before being acquired by Snapchat in 2014. A source told Business Insider that they were “shocked” Spiegel would openly wear the early prototype on vacation, and that nobody noticed.
Now, the company has dropped another clue: Snapchat has an ‘adopter’ membership with Bluetooth, suggesting it will likely use the technology in whatever hardware it is currently developing.
Snapchat, which was founded in 2011, gained early notoriety as a way for users to share pictures they would be embarrassed for people to save and share from their phones. Since then, the company has amassed over 100 million monthly active users, who share about 9,000 ‘snaps’ per second. The company turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer by Facebook , worth $3 billion, in 2013.