Snapchat rolls out Spectacles vending machines

Our round up of this week's social media news and insights:

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Snapchat rolls out Spectacles vending machines

Snapchat has begun selling its video-recording Spectacles sunglasses from vending machines. The first two pop-up Snapbot vending machine locations were in California’s LA and Big Sur, while the next site remains a secret. The Snapbot ‘sleeps’ until a customer enters its camera’s field of vision, at which point it lets them virtually try on different colours until making their selection. A fully-charged pair of Spectacles will then be dropped into the Snapbot’s ‘mouth’. The photo and video messaging app’s launch strategy has been described as heavy on hype, designed for viral marketing. Its Twitter account has been retweeting insults and praise alike, and everything about the launch fits with Snapchat’s breezy brand identity. Snapchat is using a circular video format with Spectacles, and when played in the social network itself, the format lets users twist and move their phone around to explore the full range of captured video. Users can also incorporate traditional Snapchat elements like text and drawing. The company said a limited number of the devices will be produced, and the odd distribution strategy seems designed to keep it as a niche project On launch day in downtown LA there were plenty of Spectacles to go around, but at the second location in Big Sur the machine sold out quickly and wasn’t restocked. The Spectacles Twitter account also teased that more sites in the US are set to get a vending machine. However, there is no news yet whether the machines will be launched outside of the US.

PR and Marketing in Social Media

Cointreau and Liberty London team up to launch interactive window display

Cointreau has unveiled a bespoke photo-booth in the window of Liberty London this week as part of the brand's #1orange1tree social media campaign. The booth is designed to reflect on and celebrate Cointreau’s philanthropic effort to boost the number of orange trees in Senegal. A social media campaign invites contributors to share a photo or video of themselves with an orange, using the hashtag #1orange1tree. They can then nominate a friend to do the same, and for every image or video using the hashtag posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Cointreau will commit to planting a tree in Senegal. In addition, the brand has launched a gift box entitled ‘Your Parisian Zest’ designed by Casta in collaboration with Liberty London. Only 50 boxes are available in the UK, with a further 200 available worldwide. The gift box contains a unique Liberty print lining, a bottle of the orange liqueur and a jigger for ensuring the perfect measurements to make a 'Cointreau Fizz' cocktail. All proceeds will be put towards the #1orange1tree project. One of the 50 gift boxes will contain a ticket that grants a lucky recipient the chance to go to Senegal and assist with the reforestation project.

Social Media Brands...

WhatsApp launches video calls

Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp has announced it is rolling out the ability to make video calls, using Wi-Fi or data connections, to its one billion users on mobile devices around the world. The feature, which is already common on Skype, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime and Google's video messaging app Duo, will work on iPhone, Android, and Windows phones. WhatsApp says it ‘received many requests’ for video calling and has tried to make its implementation as simple as possible, so there are no Snapchat-style filters and the ability to draw or write on a video is not included. ‘We want to make sure people understand how video calls can be done,’ Manpreet Singh, WhatsApp’s lead engineer told Wired. The news came as Microsoft announced that Skype can now be used online without registration. Microsoft may have noticed that there are plenty of other desktop video-conferencing apps that don't require users to register. Up to 300 people can chat and 25 people can join a call, Microsoft said. Earlier this year WhatsApp turned on end-to-end encryption by default for everyone using it, and WhatsApp has confirmed that the new video calling feature is also end-to-end encrypted by default. WhatsApp's next major feature introduction could be two-step authentication, which it is testing in a beta version.

Facebook acquires facial recognition startup

Facebook has bought another facial recognition startup to help bolster its photo and video capabilities as it competes with Snapchat. FacioMetrics was set up by Carnegie Mellon University students in Pennsylvania last year and it uses machine learning algorithms to analyse faces via the frame of a camera on smartphones. Facebook said the acquisition ‘will help bring more fun effects to photos and videos’, such as real-time filters and face-swapping tools which are commonplace on Snapchat. FacioMetrics founder and CEO Fernando De La Torre revealed the Facebook deal on the start-up’s website, noting the move will help it ‘advance our work at an incredible scale, reaching people from across the globe’. While a long way off, the technology along with the social network’s artificial intelligence research, could potentially allow Facebook to establish facial gesture controls, such as liking posts by smiling. FacioMetric created an app called Intraface which can detect seven different emotions in people’s face, but is currently not available from app stores. ’

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