Snapchat Acquires Vergence Labs Quietly, Enters the Wearables Game

Besides mean comments about Google and some Hollywood actors, the recent Sony leaks also revealed that Snapchat has secretly bought Vergence Labs, a manufacturer of smart eyewear.

It is in fact the Epiphany Eyewear subsidiary that makes wearables, but that doesn’t change the news a bit. What’s baffling about it is that the whole deal was kept a secret, which is a bit unusual when companies make a move against Google. Seeing how the search giant’s Glass still isn’t available commercially, you would think that any other manufacturer of smart glasses would take pride in making the news. Even more so when we’re talking about a $300 pair of intelligent eyewear. That’s a fraction of the cost of the Google Glass Explorer Edition, which currently sells for $1,500.

According to the leaked Sony documents, Snapchat paid $15M for Vergence Labs. However, that still isn’t a guarantee that the photo messaging application developer will start manufacturing its own wearables any time soon. As is the case with many acquisitions nowadays, it’s quite possible Snapchat bought Vergence Labs for a patent it needed.

What sets Epiphany Eyewear smart glasses from the its competitors is the ability to record HD videos and upload them directly to the cloud. That’s a different approach from storing the video files locally and sharing them only when a Wi-Fi connection is available. Epiphany Eyewear was convinced its glasses would work wonders on ski slopes, but Snapchat might be more interested in having them at parties. Not to mention that these look more like conventional eyewear, and not a piece of AR tech that partially blocks the view.

“That’s the reason we wanted to make these glasses as cool as possible,” stated Epiphany Eyewear CEO Erick Miller in an interview with LA Weekly in February, “because we wanted cool people to wear them.”

To some, it may look like Google Glass has fallen from grace, and that’s an opportunity that should be seized by wearable manufacturers everywhere. My opinion is that Google will get back to this stronger than ever next year, as it is not in its habit to spend years on end developing a product and then dropping it out of the blue. Unless we’re talking about these discontinued Google services. That’s another story.

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