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Snapchat’s camera glasses are now being sold via a viral marketing campaign

Bot Landing
The first hardware venture of Snap Inc. (Snapchat’s new name) has now appeared in the form of the camera-clad glasses dubbed Spectacles. The new glasses recently debuted in a rather happy-looking vending machine called the Snapbot. The Snapbot will appear in various locations, in each instance for only 24 hours before popping up in another spot, Snap Inc. says. But now, it looks like the cute vending machine is making more frequent appearances.

Last week, Snapchat’s Snapbot locator page began a 24-hour countdown timer, denoting the amount of time left before the social media company began selling its hardware at another location. Once the timer hit zero, eager fans would see an updated map showing the location of the vending machine where you’ll be able to buy Spectacles.

Thus far, the Snapbot has made appearances in Los Angeles, Big Sur, and the Rose Bowl Stadium, but less than 24 hours after making its most recent popup, the vending machine was found at the Grand Canyon on Sunday morning. This could mean that Snapchat is no longer abiding by the same cadence in terms of releasing its popular hardware, and that perhaps sometime soon, more of the U.S. will be able to access Spectacles.

The Snapbot’s eye, or circular screen, allows Snapchatters to virtually try on the glasses in three different colors before it will spit out the user’s selection (which of course only happens after paying $130 for the camera glasses). The eye-catching vending machines are expected to be the only way to purchase Spectacles — at least for the product’s first few months on the market.

Equipped with a motion sensor, the Snapbot will appear to be sleeping, then wake up to display sample video clips from the glasses whenever anyone walks by. Three simple colored knobs allow the user to pick their hue — coral, black or turquoise — before the glasses appear to vend out of the bot’s smiling “mouth.”

The first Snapbot was in Venice Beach, California, on Thursday. On Sunday, the second Snapbot appeared in Big Sur, and is now sold out. Snapchat staff on-location told visitors that the vending machine would not be restocked. A Snapbot map shows where the vending machine is moving to next, but only gives 24-hour notice of the bot’s location.

Snap Inc. is likely hoping that the interactive vending machine and frequent location changes will catch consumers’ eyes long enough to persuade them to (virtually) try on the Spectacles, giving the rather unique product an eye-catching distribution method. The product is still making waves even though it has limited availability at launch, as the Spectacles are selling for up to 20 times the original price on eBay.

The Spectacles shoot 10-minute video clips from a wide 115-degree angle lens designed to capture a view similar to the wearer’s own perspective. Those clips are then automatically synced to the user’s Snapchat memories for easy sharing. According to the Spectacles website, the camera glasses only work with Snapchat.

When the social media platform announced the Spectacles in September, it rebranded itself as Snap Inc. to reflect the company’s expansion beyond just Snapchat. Snap Inc. is now a self-described “camera company,” according to its website.

Originally published in November 2016. Harrison Kaminsky contributed to this article. Updated on 11-20-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news of the Spectacles’ availability in the Grand Canyon.

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