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Snap’s new camera drone now comes with an extended wait time after the company did not manufacture enough of the product.
Buyers looking to acquire a Pixy—a small flying camera controlled through the Snapchat app—will have to wait up to 16 weeks for it to arrive, The Verge reported Friday. When the Santa Monica-based social media firm announced the $230 drone along with a variety of other new features last month, Pixy was said to be available “while supplies last” and already had an 11-to-12 week shipping window for its initial buyers.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel acknowledged that the company “should have made more” drones, while also gesturing at supply chain issues before its launch. The company did not reveal just how many drones it initially produced, so whether the long wait comes from high demand or lack of availability is unknown, The Verge noted. A Snap spokesperson confirmed that the Pixys are not made-to-order. (Disclosure: Snap is an investor in dot.LA.)
The Pixy debacle appears to be a grievously miscalculated course correction; Snap previously lost millions after overestimating demand for its camera sunglasses. Last week, Spiegel debuted its latest update, an AR-augmented Spectacles, which is currently on presale to a select few despite the fact that it’s still in testing.
As Snap seeks to capture its Gen Z audience with new advertising partnerships and original content, the company is also building up its tech features. Snap has leaned into AR through shopping and local landmarks, and in March it acquired neuro-tech company NextMind to further advance its AR research. With Snap’s latest hardware facing shipping setbacks, it's unclear if the Pixy will alleviate pressures caused by a lackluster first quarter.
Social media giant Snap is selling a new product that could change the way you see the world—but no, it’s not the company’s long-awaited augmented reality glasses.
On Thursday, the Santa Monica-based firm launched a flying camera called Pixy, a pocket-sized drone that could take your next selfie from an aerial view. The Snapchat-connected drone was probably the biggest surprise from Snap’s Partner Summit, an annual event when the company shares updates on its products, features and partnerships.
But Pixy wasn’t the only major announcement. From augmented reality (AR) at concerts to a new way to shop online, here are some highlights from the Snap summit:
Virtual Dressing Rooms
Snap is launching a Dress Up tab on the Snapchat app where users can virtually try on apparel using augmented reality. The company has already deployed AR shopping, but Dress Up will create a dedicated destination—just a tap away from the app’s camera—where users can browse items, share looks and bookmark outfits and accessories.
To date, AR shopping has allowed Snapchatters to preview 3D models of sneakers on their feet or sunglasses on their faces using their smartphone cameras. On Thursday, Snap announced users can now virtually try on clothes using full-body photos, with Snap overlaying products onto the pictures.
Snap has pitched AR as an innovative way for brands to advertise, drive sales and reduce item returns. Most shopping experiences on Snapchat link to an external website for customers wanting to buy products, a spokesperson said.
The company is now offering new software tools to make it easier for retailers to make AR versions of their items, using existing product images. Snap also announced that companies can integrate its AR try-on experience onto their own platforms; Puma will be the first company to use the technology to let shoppers digitally try sneakers directly on its own app.
Snap's AR tech allows users to try on sneakers using their smartphones. Courtesy of Snap
AR at Music Festivals
Snap has recently taken steps to bring AR experiences to physical locations like local landmarks and small businesses. Now, Snap is bringing AR to music festivals through a multi-year partnership with Beverly Hills-based Live Nation.
Starting with the Electric Daisy Carnival next month in Las Vegas, concertgoers can use AR to try on merchandise, find friends and discover AR experiences around the festival grounds. Other festivals that will be deploying Snap’s AR include Lollapalooza in Chicago, Wireless Festival in London, Rolling Loud in Miami and The Governors Ball in New York, the company said.
Snap’s New Camera Drone
As mentioned, Snap will now sell a pocket-sized flying camera called Pixy. CEO Evan Spiegel pitched the device as a new creative tool allowing users to capture photos and videos from new, aerial angles.
The mini-drone comes with four preset flight paths that users can select with the press of a button, no controller needed. Pixy “knows when and where to return” and lands gently in the palm of your hand, Spiegel said. From there, users can wirelessly transfer the aerial shots to their Snapchat accounts.
The Pixy device costs $230 to buy. Snap advised customers to check out their local laws and regulations around drones before letting Pixy take flight.
Snap’s AR glasses, meanwhile, are not yet for sale. The latest Spectacles are currently being tested by “hundreds” of developers who’ve received early access, according to Sophia Dominguez, Snap’s head of AR platform partnerships.
Director Mode for Creators
Speaking of creative tools, Snapchat is rolling out a new suite of camera and editing features, called Director Mode, allowing users to make more polished content.
One feature will allow creators to use a smartphone’s front-facing and back-facing cameras at the same time—letting them record what’s in front of them while capturing their reaction simultaneously.
Snap is also making it easier to seamlessly transform the backgrounds of videos through its Green Screen mode—similar to an existing feature on TikTok—while its Quick Edit mode lets users easily edit together multiple Snaps. Director Mode will roll out on Apple devices in the coming months, followed by Android devices later this year.
Snap has allowed creators to attach AR experiences to physical locations. Courtesy of Snap
Big User Numbers
In addition to new products and features, Snap’s executives touted the size and engagement of the company’s user base.
Snapchat now reaches more than 600 million monthly active users, they said Thursday, up from the 500 million reported last May. Last week, the company reported it had 332 million daily active users.
As TechCrunch recently noted, Snapchat has been growing faster than rivals Facebook and Twitter—though TikTok remains the dominant social media app of the moment, with the most downloads in the first quarter of this year and more than 1 billion monthly active users as of last year.
Snapchat users have embraced its AR offerings, with people interacting with the app’s AR Lenses 6 billion times per day on average, Spiegel noted.“What was once a far-off vision for computing overlaid on the world through augmented reality is possible today through our camera,” he said.
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Epirus, a Torrance-based startup that sells “directed-energy” weapons that can take down drones, raised a $200 million Series C funding round to further develop its defense systems.
The new funding gives Epirus a post-deal valuation of $1.35 billion, it said Tuesday, and takes its total capital raised to $287 million since it launched in 2018. T. Rowe Price Associates led the round and was joined by investors 8VC, Bedrock, Broom Ventures, EPIQ Capital Group, Gaingels, General Dynamics Land Systems, I Squared Capital, Moore Strategic Ventures, Parkwood, Piedmont Capital Investments, Red Cell Partners and StepStone Group.
Epirus opened a new 100,000-square-foot headquarters in Torrance last fall that houses roughly 150 employees. At the time, the company said it had grown its workforce 200% in the previous year and was opening satellite offices in both Hawthorne and the Washington, D.C. suburb of McLean, Va.
Image courtesy of Epirus
The startup’s technology has found traction in an era when drone warfare has become increasingly pervasive. Epirus develops microwave energy-powered weapons, like its Leonidas product, that can detect and zap drones out of the air. It has already won contracts from the U.S. Air Force, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Army Applications Laboratory. In January, Epirus partnered with General Dynamics Land Systems, one of its investors, to integrate the Leonidas with Stryker armored vehicles used by the U.S. Army.Epirus competes with larger names in the aerospace and defense sector like Raytheon and Kord Technologies, which jointly secured a $124 million contract to add laser defense systems to Stryker vehicles last year. Boeing and General Atomics are also developing a 300-kilowatt, ground-based laser system for the Army to target airborne threats.
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