We already knew that Snapchat bought a Google Glass-esque startup called Vergence Labs and has recently been hiring a bunch of wearable technology and eyewear experts, but here’s another sign that the messaging firm is about to get into the burgeoning augmented-reality space.
As noted by the Financial Times Monday, Snapchat has joined the Bluetooth special interest group (SIG), the organization that develops the ubiquitous wireless communications technology.
Snapchat has joined the group as an adopter, which means it gets to build products using Bluetooth technology.
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Of course, at the moment all Snapchat makes is a wildly popular app for ephemeral, in-the-moment communications. However, the app’s goofy filters already dabble in the field of augmented reality (AR)—where elements of the real and virtual worlds are mixed together—and special AR glasses may make sense for the firm.
Bluetooth would likely be the technology that connects the headset or glasses with Snapchat’s app on the user’s mobile phone.
If it does dive into that business, Snapchat could yet again be going toe-to-toe with Facebook, a giant that has recently been desperate to keep up with its cooler, younger rival.
Facebook (FB) owns Oculus Rift, one of the big names in the admittedly still tiny virtual-reality headset market. Other players here include a panoply of smartphone makers such as Samsung and HTC, and of course Google (GOOG), which kicked off the craze with Glass.
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Virtual reality differs from augmented reality in that it only uses computer-generated imagery, but AR probably makes more sense when dealing with interpersonal communications.