Snap Inc. has been playing with drones. The New York Times reported Tuesday that the company has worked on building its own drones, citing three people “briefed on the project who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.”
The piece doesn’t get into details, but the premise is intriguing — and not at all surprising for a company that defines itself as a “camera company” in its own mission.
“Snap is a camera company. We feel like we’re really at the beginning of what cameras can do, evolve from being just a piece of hardware to software connected to the internet,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in a 35-minute video released about the company ahead of its initial public offering.
So far, Snap Inc. only has its video-camera equipped sunglasses, Spectacles, to offer as a “camera.” Snap will begin trading on the stock market Thursday, thereby opening itself up to scrutiny from investors for its future prospectives.
Beating copycats — like Facebook
In a world where Facebook is continuously copying its products and offering it to a larger user base, Snapchat is clearly looking for more unique paths to take.
Details of Snapchat’s interest in drone technology specifically have been scattered in other projects and other media reports. For example, within a nearly five-minute video of a Snapchat-curated “Live Story,” now called “Our Stories” on the Battle of Mosul, Snapchat featured a 10-second video of drone footage:
The footage with the Mosul story was taken by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and not produced by Snapchat directly. But the editorial team’s decision to include the footage shows the potential for future storytelling on Snapchat.
Snapchat declined to comment on that matter or its other interest in drone technology.
Snap Labs and flying cameras
Snap Inc., based in Venice, California, has a division of its company called Snap Labs, which is dedicated to working on secretive projects, including wearable cameras, facial recognition and 3D scanning technology, Reuters reported.
Snap has also been in conversations with drone companies. Snap was interested in an acquisition with Lily Robotics, Business Insider reported in December, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Lily Robotics offers a drone that tracks and follows its owners and simultaneously shoots video, creating a hands-free recording experience similar to Spectacles.
What takes place inside Snap Labs is unknown to most of the company, even top executives, according to a person familiar with the matter speaking to Mashable.
But it’s clear that some type of gadgets are being built — or at least the knowledge for such endeavors are within the walls.
Over the last year, Snapchat has hired dozens of hardware and mechanical engineers, who worked at Apple, Google, GoPro, Motorola and Qualcomm. Marketing firm Mediakix recently envisioned what a Snap Inc. smartphone might look like, given those new hires.