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Snapchat Secretly Bought A Cooler, Cheaper Google Glass Competitor

Snapchat Secretly Bought A Cooler, Cheaper Google Glass Competitor
[Photo: Flickr user Maria Morri]

Hidden in the endless trove of leaked Sony documents was a small but notable Snapchat acquisition. According to emails sent by Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, who is a member of Snapchat’s board, the disappearing-photo app quietly acquired a startup earlier this year called Vergence Labs.

Vergence Labs has a subsidiary called Epiphany Eyewear that makes smart eyeglasses. They start at $300 a pair. The frames don’t pack as many features as Google Glass, but they have the advantage of looking more like average spectacles. They have the ability to record and share HD video directly to the cloud, and their creators originally envisioned them being used on things like ski slopes. Or—perhaps pertinent to Snapchat’s interests—at the club.

Photo: via Epiphany Eyewear

As first reported by Business Insider, the deal was apparently worth $15 million.

Other than that? Not many details are known. The acquisition doesn’t necessarily mean Snapchat is getting into the wearables business. Maybe it was a talent acquisition. Or maybe Vergence Labs owns a patent that Snapchat wanted. Earlier this year, for example, Vergence debuted an app for the glasses at CES that uses motion-sensing technology to control a Parrot AR drone over Wi-Fi. All you have to do is wave your hands around.

In any case, Snapchat now owns a smaller, cheaper Google Glass competitor, which might not have been a bad move, considering Google Glass’s recent troubles keeping developers happy.

That, and Google Glass still doesn’t look very cool. “That’s the reason we wanted to make these glasses as cool as possible,” Epiphany Eyewear CEO Erick Miller told LA Weekly in February, “because we wanted cool people to wear them.”

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