Snapchat drops biggest hint yet it is getting into AR hardware

6 Sep 2016

Not satisfied with just dominating the youth messaging market, Snapchat has now dropped its biggest hint yet that it is getting into hardware, with news it has joined the industry group behind the Bluetooth standard.

Snapchat continues to grow at a relentless pace, with more than 150m daily active users, but now it plans to move on from just being a messaging app to one that wants to get involved with developing hardware, too.

According to the Financial Times, the strongest recent indication that it has devices in the works has come with the revelation that it has joined the industry group responsible for setting the universal Bluetooth standard.

Known as the Bluetooth Special Interests Group, any company looking to develop connected hardware in the tech world has to join it, and this move would appear to confirm reports earlier this year that Snapchat was looking to develop an augmented reality (AR) headset.

One person close to a number of the major hardware manufacturers has said that Snapchat had begun discussions with several designers this summer to begin building the first prototype headset, but has been working on developing the technology behind it since the beginning of the year.

Snapchat getting aggressive on M&As

Additionally, the company has begun hiring electrical engineers and product managers from a number of tech start-ups, including Sphero, the company behind the incredibly popular BB-8 Star Wars toy.

In the meantime, it is expected that Snapchat will continue to snap up AR-related start-ups, having begun the process back in 2014 when it purchased Vengeance Labs, which was developing an AR headset, for $15m .

“Snapchat is very aggressive on mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and wants to see everything,” said one start-up investor to the Financial Times.

“They are looking at pretty much every AR start-up with computer vision skills as a possible M&A target.”

Man using mobile phone image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic