Will Tencent’s New Video Shades Make You Look Like A Glasshole?


Photo: DAVID MCNEW/AFP (Getty Images)

When it comes to wearable tech, people just don’t seem to like it in the shade. Despite several stabs from big companies, no one has really delivered a pair of high-tech video glasses that have captured the imagination of the public.

Most famously, there was Google, which debuted the Google Glass in 2013 and discontinued it after two years of bad press. The $1,500 fashion accessory became a symbol of offense and anyone who wore them quickly became a “Glasshole.” More recently, Snapchat brought out the Spectacles, sunglasses that could capture micro videos for the social network. While not as universally derided, they haven’t exactly set the world on fire. Still, they’ve been successful enough that Tencent is bringing the product to the Chinese market with the Weishi smartglasses.

Tencent is a Google-level company operating overseas, although they have plenty of interests that stretch to the United States. Particularly, they’re a huge investor in Snap. In fact, it’s likely that the two companies worked in tandem to bring these video glasses to the market. Sporting an 8-megapixel camera, the wearable can shoot in 1080p and supports live streaming via a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone. Tencent hopes that the glasses will spark interest in the Weishi platform, a video sharing service similar to Twitter’s dearly departed Vine.

On our shores, Snapchat recently released a second version of the Spectacles despite losing money on the first. This signals to us that companies are going to keep trying to interest us in video glasses. While it’s a cool concept in a bubble, it still seems like quite a leap. The social ramifications of someone not even needing to reach into their pocket to start recording are quite a hurdle.

Of course, people would have balked at everyone carrying an omnidirectional microphone in their pocket a couple decades ago. Now, despite the privacy concerns, we do it every day. The future sometimes makes fools of us all.



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