This week, we look at:
- Snap Inc. releases Spectacles and a new app update that sheds light on the company’s future.
- New smart home hardware and how such devices may one day compromise our security.
- A couple of ways brands are using television to tell interactive stories to kids.
Snapchat’s Next Act
- Snap reveals its grand strategy: Snapchat laid the groundwork for its next big push into AR in an update to its app last Tuesday. The update adds special filters for the phone’s rear camera that Snapchat calls “World Lenses.” These lenses work similarly to Snapchat’s existing selfie lenses, but they differ in a key way by not just tracking someone’s face, but instead overlay 3D effects all over your surroundings. Augmented reality is a big reason why Snapchat recently rebranded to Snap Inc. the “camera company”. [via Business Insider]
- Snapchat’s Spectacles go on sale via vending machines: ISnapchat’s Spectacles have arrived. The $130 sunglasses with a built-in camera will only be available from cartoonish vending machines called Snapbots, which will mysteriously spring up around the country before moving on to the next location. A website will tell buyers where the Snapbots will be on a day-to-day basis. The machines will dispense Spectacles in either Black, Coral or Teal, letting you first try them on virtually via an integrated AR display. [via The Verge & TechCrunch
Smart Home Update
- A “magic wand” for the home: Sevenhugs’ Smart Remote’s minimalism belies its incredible magic trick: the ability to serve up controls for Philips Hue bulbs, Sonos speakers, Samsung TVs, and dozens of other connected products with the literal flick of a wrist. It’s like a souped-up television remote. Point at a Wi-Fi-connected lamp, and you’ll see brightness and color settings for said bulb appear on the Smart Remote’s screen. Move it in the direction of a smart TV, alternatively, and a relevant collection of channel toggles, volume sliders, a power toggle, and shortcuts to cable channels will appear. [via Digital Trends]
- Home monitoring will soon monitor you: When the Internet of Things begins to track electrical usage, houses could become more measured—and scrutinized—than ever. The terror of truly smart gadgets is the same as their promise: that they really are the future, and furthermore that their arrival is inevitable. That’s something to think about when plugging in or turning on an appliance. Eventually, soon even, the tiny electrical load it draws will reach past the blender or the light bulb, out above the house and up into the cloud, where it will replicate onto the ledgers of federal agents and commercial advertisers and corporate actuaries, and remain forever. [via The Atlantic]
Interactive TV for Kids
- Cartoon Network releases companion app for kids: MagiMobile, a new mobile application based on the universe of television series Mighty Magiswords. In the app, the user’s device is designed to look like the devices owned by characters in the show. Users can complete quests within the app in order to collect Magiswords for their collections. For instance, one quest may ask users to learn more about the show’s characters by viewing character profiles in the app’s Contacts list. Elsewhere, when users are watching Mighty Magiswords episodes, they can open the app and tap the “Collect” button to make the app “listen” to the episode. When the app recognizes the episode that’s playing, it will give users the Magisword featured in the episode. [via Adweek]
- Apple’s puts children’s books on the TV: Apple’s new app for tvOS is designed to let children and parents read books together before bedtime. iBooks StoryTime promises to give families a “different way to experience classic kids’ books and discover new favorites.” You can use the app to read books on your TV, using the Siri Remote to flip pages, and the app also supports iBooks with the Read-Aloud function. This means there’s pre-recorded narration for the book with automatic page turning. In some cases there are also sound effects and words are highlighted on-screen as they’re read aloud. [via The Verge]