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Snap Releases New Version of Spectacles as It Buys WaveOptics, a Wearables Manufacturer

By Will Healy - May 21, 2021 at 2:05PM

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Snap vies to become a major competitor in the augmented reality space.

Snap (SNAP 2.26%) released Spectacles 3, the latest version of its Spectacles smart glasses. Announced at its Snap Partner Summit on Thursday, this augmented reality (AR) product overlays computer-generated imagery on a field seen by the user. 

Additionally, Snap revealed on Friday that it will buy WaveOptics, a company that makes parts for AR glasses. According to CNBC, Snap will pay $500 million in both cash and stocks as part of the deal.

Young person wearing augmented reality glasses while enjoying an AR experience.

Image source: Getty Images.

WaveOptics should bring some manufacturing expertise as Snap seeks to continually improve Spectacles. However, the latest release represents a departure from past versions of Spectacles. Spectacles 2 focused mostly on capturing both videos and images. Consequently, it does not include the computer-generated imagery offered in the latest version. 

To help display that imagery, two cameras, four mics, and a touchpad help operate this product. Its four gigabytes of memory can store up to 100 3D videos or 1,200 3D photos.

For investors, the Spectacles 3 release and the purchase of WaveOptics represent the latest in a series of moves taking Snap further in the AR space. However, it likely comes out of necessity as Facebook (META 1.88%) has moved aggressively into virtual reality with its Oculus headsets. 

Moreover, Snap has faced constant pressure from Facebook as the social media giant has co-opted key features, such as its Snapchat Stories. Snapchat managed to reverse its decline by embracing ads and developing content. However, it remains unclear whether Snap can continue its momentum with this move into AR.

Snap stock increased by about 5% on Thursday and has held most of those gains in Friday trading.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Will Healy has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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