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 Unveils Its New AR Glasses and Innovation Lab

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.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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Motional Links With Uber to Make Robotaxis a Reality

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Motional
Image courtesy of Motional

Motional, a self-driving taxi startup backed by Hyundai, will partner with Uber to bring its robotic taxis to cities throughout the United States within the next decade as part of its push to get people more comfortable with the concept of taking a ride in a driverless electric vehicle.

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