In case you missed it, social media company Snapchat last week said it was rolling out video sunglasses. Oh Google Glass, if only you knew!

In case you missed it, social media company Snapchat last week said it was rolling out video sunglasses. Oh Google Glass, if only you knew!

SnapChat also paired the product launch with a bit of corporate readjustment — rechristening itself Snap Inc. Snapchat offers a service to send temporary images.

Snap Inc. is “a camera company.” Oh Nikon, if only you knew!

For those of a certain age who want to say "hi” or “what a beautiful day, are you enjoying it, too?” or “Thanks for the cupcake — it tasted great!” the go-to tech solution has been simple and well-tested: Pick up the telephone, dial and talk.

For others ... well, that’s where Snapchat comes in. Snapshot users send photos of themselves eating a cupcake and giving a thumbs up, instead of speaking the words “thanks for the cupcake."

In about as long as words linger in the air, the photo, too, disappears. Think of it as the equivalent of picture-talk. Or chat with more bits.

We live in a visual age, so the emergence of visual conversation should not surprise any of us. None of this is new. We all make photos, use photos, view photos — photos provide a way to capture the moment (Oh Kodak, if only you knew!) and keep that moment. As digital communication tools emerged we began to post, text and share images in ways we could never have imagined when we picked up of print orders from the film processor.

Now we are moving in a third shift — one that truly brings a new way to create visual-based communication. Snapchat offered the first widely used example of that wave — and that’s just the beginning.

Some pundits snickered at Snap’s new “Spectacles.” These colorful, trendy sunglasses, which record 10-second video snippets with a touch to the temple, look like a passing fad. But, combined with the “camera company” statement, they suggest something different: the intentional movement toward this new form of visual communication and the development of tools to create it.

Google Glass might have been a bit ahead of its time, but at its core it nailed a key feature of this next gen of visuality: point of view. I came to grasp this from two very different projects one of my colleagues worked on.

First came a pilot use of Google Glass with telecom technicians in the field, people who needed to use their hands as they were troubleshooting wiring and networks.

Glass — and more specifically the PoV it brought — enabled a centralized expert to “see” what the techs were seeing and provide a more effective and accurate level of support. Second, the group tested a disaster response application, where responders and the operations center connected via Glass to show and share events in the field as they unfolded.

In both these cases, snapping a photo or recording video from a handheld device helped — but provided nothing like the sense of being there that Google Glass did. As the person in the field looked, the person in the operation center “saw.” It was the closest thing to being there.

That’s point of view. That’s seeing — and communicating — through the visuals as if you were there. And that’s the future.

Google and Snap are not alone in realizing this. In the short few years since Google Glass spawned spoofs, a plethora of less-noticed startups are, well, starting up the field of PoV devices.

Pivothead trumpets “Livestream your point of view!” Zetronix pitches state-of-the-art design and ingenious design. Even the Home Shopping Network (oops, I mean HSN) offers Neurona OpticHD glasses with which to “post amazing video from the top of a ski slope or record your grandson’s baseball game ...” And let’s not forget Brickhouse Security Spyshades, a “stylish, sporty pair of sunglasses but also a covert HD camera."

The list keeps growing. Most of them don’t exactly live up to stylish or sporty in looks — that’s where Snap has an edge — and the reviews on them are decidedly mixed. Combine this with the police bodycams and the emerging space of immersive storytelling — and the one story it all tells is that PoV isn’t just a goofy idea. PoV delivers a new way of visual communication that we haven’t quite figured out ... yet.

When I was little I used to love the science fiction stories where we could telepathically transmit images to each other. In these stories, the ability to “send” images always seemed to help eliminate the misunderstandings that words created among us, or somehow saved the world because the solution they shared was beyond mere words. Visual communication seemed “purer” somehow, more accurate and direct.

I don’t know about that pureness — after all, point of view includes a viewpoint. Yet it does seem that we’re going to have a chance to find out, perhaps sooner than later.

— Teresa Martin lives, breathes and writes about the intersection of technology, business and humanity. Read more of her recent columns at www.capecodtimes.com/teresamartin.