Snap Unveils Its New AR Glasses and Innovation Lab

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Snap unveiled its latest AR glasses, pushing deeper into the technology it considers its big bet.

Chief executive Evan Spiegel demonstrated the latest version of "Spectacles" that overlay computer graphics atop the wearer's field of vision during the company's annual partner summit on Thursday.


The device includes a touchpad at the frame's hingepoint, two cameras, four microphones and two speakers. The glasses have yet to go on sale, but they've been distributed to select creators and developers, and are available to qualified buyers on a new website.

The glasses respond to voice commands and include overlays designed by artists. These include imagery meant to augment tours of certain locations, give people the feeling of walking through a poem and offer more prosaic experiences like watching an animated dog play fetch. The glasses use Snap's "Scan" technology to identify objects in the camera's field of vision.

Tapping the touchpad brings up a menu of lenses, Snap's name for its augmented reality overlays. The glasses can also be used to play games. And the wearer's view can be recorded and shared to the Snapchat app.

The Spectacles are integrated with Snap's Lens Studio, a software kit that creators and developers use to create lenses.

Scan is gaining prominence on the Snapchat app as well, being upgraded to the camera home screen. That will make its capabilities more accessible to users, including two new features Snap announced. Screenshop will allow users to scan a friend's outfit or clothes from photos saved to their phone and receive recommended similar looks from hundreds of brands. And in partnership with Allrecipes, users will soon be able to scan a collection of ingredients and get recipe recommendations.

Snap plans to fund a $3.5 million "AR Innovation Lab" with an additional $1 million from Verizon for building "5G AR" experiences.

Such moves are part of Snap's broader effort to add "utility" to its flagship app. That includes adding functionality for AR shopping and bringing new features to its Map, which the company has called a multibillion-dollar opportunity. On Thursday Snap announced a new Map feature called Layers, which augments a user's map with images and information related to their location. Examples include showing a user's old photos and videos, nearby restaurants and nearby concerts.

Snap will also build an app with Disney for Disney World visitors to incorporate AR into their photos and videos.

Creator Tools and Updated Numbers

Snap also introduced new features to further boost its arsenal in the creator arms race. Certain creators can now earn money via "gifting" from their subscribers. Creators also now have a new standalone app called "Story Studio" for editing content. And Spotlight, Snapchat's TikTok-copycat that's algorithmically doling out $1 million per day, can now be accessed via the web in addition to the Snapchat app.

The company provided updated user figures as well. Snapchat now boasts 500 million monthly active users and is installed on nearly half of all smartphones in the U.S. Snap highlighted its international growth, noting that 40% of its users are now outside North America, and that daily active users in India grew 100% year-over-year for each of the past five quarters.

Snap's shares were up nearly 6% on the day.

https://twitter.com/hisamblake
samblake@dot.la

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Weekly Recap: The State of Venture Capitalism in Southern California

Luis Gomez

Luis Gomez is dot.LA's Engagement Editor. Prior to joining the dot.LA team, he served as the audience growth consultant for Capital & Main. He has also previously worked as a digital producer for The San Diego Union-Tribune, NPR affiliate KPCC in Los Angeles and Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter at @RunGomez.

Top L.A. venture capitalists are benefitting from a white hot market.

This week, dot.LA published the first of several findings out of its quarterly poll of top Los Angeles venture capitalists. In short, those surveyed remain optimistic about the economic recovery and more than half say their companies saw valuations jump in the second quarter.

Among other findings:

  • All of the 33 investors who took the survey saw employee headcounts increase at their portfolio companies last quarter
  • Most VCs surveyed expect more hiring on the horizon
  • Some (36%) said they're having trouble retaining workers.

LA Startups To Watch πŸ‘€

MedTech Innovator has launched BioTools Innovator, a new virtual accelerator for genomics, personal medicine, targeted drug therapy and other life science startups.

Culver City-based startup Modern Animal is looking to grow by appealing to both overtaxed vets and the new rush of pet owners with its hybrid telemedicine subscription service. On Friday, it announced a $75.5 million investment to help do it.

Adway promises to pay drivers $50-$350 a month in what they call "passive" income by projecting ads on the side of their cars. This week, the nearly three-year-old company clinched a $6 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures.

Spinn, the maker of a coffee brewing machine that uses a unique "centrifuge process," has raised $20 million in a round of funding announced Monday. The startup says its focus on sustainability sets it apart from other at-home brewing machines.

#TechLA's Movers & Shakers This Week πŸ“’

Rocket Lab this week successfully launched a satellite for the U.S. Space Force after a failed mission in May. MIT-trained engineer and serial tech entrepreneur Krisztina "Z" Holly writes that Rocket Lab's quiet launch represents the real reason to have faith in space exploration, rather than space tourism.

Rental services are finally coming to the masses. Los Angeles-based Arrive Outdoors is making the technology behind its camping gear renting success available to brands that want to add a "rent" button on a product detail page. The company also announced it has raised $4 million in Seed II funding led by Amino Ventures.

LA Tech and Venture Capital News πŸ—ž

El Segundo-based Dibbs, which brands itself as "the only real-time fractional sports card marketplace," this week secured a $13 million Series A round led by Foundry Group, with star athletes like Chris Paul and Skylar Diggins-Smith also investing.

Meta Data Software, a company that organizes the massive content libraries at some of the biggest streaming services, is calling Los Angeles its new home.

New data from PledgeLA's survey of Los Angeles tech companies and venture firms shows there is still a big disparity in pay among women, Black and Latinx tech workers.

Even as sports events scaled down during the pandemic, Elysian Park Ventures saw an opportunity in the digital realm. Co-founder Cole Van Nice says COVID ultimately advanced the timelines for the sports industry.

Listen Up πŸŽ™

Need a podcast recommendation this weekend? Here are some new pods we have for you:

Hear from Alex Friedman, the co-founder of LOLA, a feminine care brand created to address the need for more transparency in women's health, in the latest episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast. Listen on Stitcher | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | iHeart Radio

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, veteran media investor Daniel Leff spills the truth about streaming services: everyone's chasing Netflix. Listen on Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify

🚨 ​EXTRA EXTRA 🚨

Hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees in Irvine and many more remotely walked off the job on Wednesday to protest a workplace culture they call misogynistic and toxic. The walkout came after workers decried the company's response to a lawsuit brought forward by a California agency that accuses Activision Blizzard of fostering a pervasive "frat boy" culture. At their protest, they called on the company to be more transparent in its hiring practices.

Olympics viewership on NBC is taking a dive. New data shows a 36% decline from the 2016 Games across all NBC's platforms, which include its linear TV channel, Peacock and NBC Sports digital.

LA Tech and Venture Capital Events πŸ’¬

Immersive gaming experiences took a hit during the pandemic as venues shut down, but industry leaders expect them to come roaring back as people seek greater connections and the industry grows. This week, dot.LA hosted an intimate gathering at the immersive Two Bit Circus in downtown Los Angeles. Watch the video and sort through photos of the event.

Other upcoming Southern California events in the tech and startup scene in August:

Is your organization having an event? Let us feature it in our newsletter! Email luis@dot.la.

Am I doing this right? πŸ€”

Throw me feedback, compliments or questions on this newsletter at luis@dot.la or on Twitter at @rungomez.

'No Matter What I’m Doing, It's Always Controversial': Cloud9's All-Women Esports Team Talks Sexism in Gaming

Leigh Giangreco
Leigh Giangreco is a reporter covering culture, politics and news. Her work has appeared in outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and Washington City Paper.

The belief that female players aren't tokens in esports is still a radical one. Just as dominant women's teams in traditional sports like the U.S. women's national soccer team struggle with discrimination, women in esports face online harassment and sexism.

Read more Show less

Disney, Walmart Join Local Governments in Requiring Worker Vaccinations

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Entertainment giant Disney and retailer Walmart on Friday became the latest companies to require employees to be vaccinated. They followed Facebook and Google earlier this week.

Read more Show less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS

Trending