Hacking Snapchat's spectacles

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The whole world and their dog know that Snapchat announced the release of their hardware a couple of months back. They called it Spectacles. Obviously that meant it is going to be a wearable gadget for your face right?

Hacking Snapchat's spectacles
Snapchat’s Spectacles

Snapchat’s Spectacles went on sale a few weeks ago. And following the hype of the colorful gadgets, there was an expected rush for the items.

Snapchat wanted to avoid the problems that befell Google’s Glass by using a different method to sell Spectacles. So instead of giving out samples to techies to try out before selling to the general public like Google did with Glass, Spectacles were sold directly to the public using vending machines.

All interested users had to do was keep their ears to the ground for news of where they can get the item. Then a quick trip to the designated store with $160 firmly clutched in your fist should get you one at the shop.

For now, it is all about busy bodies who have found a way to ‘hack’ the Spectacles and are making a lot of noise about it. The whole point of ‘hacking’ the Spectacles is to ensure nobody knows you are recording them while wearing Spectacles.

This is why anonymous recording is important and why Spectacles don’t want it

Hacking Snapchat's spectacles
How to hack Spectacles

Thing is, people get very uncomfortable and jittery when they see you trying to make a video of them. So the reaction of people to these recordings can swing from nervousness to outright anger and violence.

It depends on the person’s mood and personality. So it’s best to video people anonymously.

But Snapchat doesn’t want anonymous shoots because of privacy concerns. This issue was one of the things that lead to the fall of Google Glass.

The general consensus was that it was improper to video people like that. So for Snapchat, making sure the public knew the wearer of Spectacles is recording a video of them is important.

That is why they included several signs and LED indicators so that people know when Spectacles is recording.

But where is the fun if one can’t video people without their knowledge? So that is the essence of the so called hack: to be able to video people without their knowledge.

One of the first so-called hackers, Jesse Wellens, shared his trick on YouTube. His over 10 million subscribers were taught how to use Snapchat without people’s knowledge.

All one needed for the hack is not some complex coding algorithms. An electrical duck tape and willingness to do it is just about all you need (see video below).

In the video, he used the duct tape to cover the LED that indicates Spectacles is recording. With that in place, he moved around a beach casually recording friends and bystanders without their knowledge.

A different ‘hacker’ went a step further. He posted a video on YouTube showing how to even make people unaware that the glasses on your face has no link to Snapchat’s Spectacles.

His trick was to use spray paint to alter the color of the entire device and of course the ‘duct tape’ trick to cover the LED indicator ( see video below)

I guess the whole point of these hacks is to tell Snapchat that all their attempts to protect the public from secret recordings using Spectacles can be bypassed easily.

It is now left for Snapchat to respond to these concerns. How they respond could affect the fortunes of Spectacles.

And talking about fortunes, Snapchat might be concerned because if Spectacles falls this early, it might affect their bid to raise money from investors.

By March, they hope to get about $4 billion in an IPO. Investor confidence is directly tied to the public perception about a brand. Investors need to know a company can effectively handle a potential PR problem before trusting that company with their money.


image credit: mashable.com; cnet.com

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