How Snapchat Is Driving AR Innovation
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where real-world objects are enhanced by computer-generated information across the senses. It’s a growing industry that has been made even more important with the metaverse’s rise across platforms and industries. When it comes to augmented reality innovations, social media platforms and tech companies are hard at work to create the best tools to be used by users, brands, and creators alike. But when it comes to standout performers, Snap Inc. is leading the way to a hyperrealistic AR future.
- Snapchat’s AR innovations are present not only in their in-app functionality but also in their robotics and wearables technology
- Snap Inc. is poised to be a contender for the top AR platform as it competes with Meta, Apple, Google, and more
- Snapchat’s Ghost Innovations Lab is working on exciting new plans, prototypes, and research with grant-funded opportunities
To Think It All Started With Dog Ears…
Snapchat is driving innovations in AR through the development of its lens technology. What started as fun filters putting dog ears on your head for a selfie has grown into a booming innovative space. And with AR, virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) playing key roles in the metaverse’s impending reality, Snapchat is cementing itself as one of the most influential social platforms today.
Meet The AR Suite
Snapchat’s AR options are robust and provide opportunities for creators and ordinary users alike to experience AR in a creative space. Snap’s AR tools include the in-app Lenses, their highly anticipated wearable Spectacles, the Pixy drone, a camera kit for developers, an AR innovation lab, and more.
Snap Lenses Take The Cake
Much of Snapchat’s AR innovation is the result of its Lens options, which can be applied to in-app images and videos. To date, Snapchat has over 2.5 billion lenses available created by 250,000 lens producers. In total, users have viewed Lenses 3.5 trillion times, which has resulted in 200 million daily interactions. One of its most recent viral filters, which contorts the user’s face into a very realistic cry-face, has generated 1.3 billion views.
Each Lens falls into one of the following categories:
- Utility Lenses: Solves problems, translate languages, take measurements, and more
- Entertainment Lenses: Showcase art, music, and culture
- Shopping Lenses: Enables try-on and product demos
- Self-Expression: Show off personalities and POVs
- Gaming: Here for a good time
- Education: Inspire, teach, and lead change
With a wide variety of Lens genres running the gamut from helpful applications to fun simplicity, it’s clear that Snapchat has a solid hold on what users are interested in from an AR perspective. It is also at the forefront of inclusive initiatives with developments including the American Sign Language (ASL) Lens, which teaches ASL to users through games, fingerspelling tasks, and more through finger-tracking technology.
And because Snapchat is also hard at work finding opportunities for creators and developers to monetize on the app, they’ve also launched a fellowship program that gives qualified candidates opportunities to develop new Lenses. There have also been upgrades made to Snap’s Creator Marketplace where top brands and developers can search for talent to promote and demo new Lens technology. It integrates with the Snap Lens Network, which helps creators find paid opportunities to connect with brands.
Speculating About Spectacles
In addition to Lens technology, which utilizes Snapchat’s in-app camera, the platform has also developed wearable glasses called Spectacles. As part of a broader vision for AR’s future, Spectacles technology aims to bring AR into our daily lives with 3D imagery layered into the real world.
While the glasses are only available to a select number of creators to beta test the technology, for now, it won’t be long until Spectacles and competing wearable tech from the likes of Apple, Google, and Meta become commonplace. In fact, according to a Deloitte study commissioned by Snap Inc., “almost all smartphone users will be frequent AR users by 2025.”
A Drone Called Pixy
One of the newest additions to Snapchat’s host of products is the very real drone, very yellow selfie drone technology. Pixy, which debuted at the Snap Partner Summit last month, takes camera technology into the stratosphere with six pre-programmed flight patterns that help users capture content from a new angle. It’s pocket-sized for optimal transportation and cute as a button, but don’t let that fool you: Pixy is the gateway for the drone x creator pairing to become canon.
For The Developers
Snap Kit is all about the developers. By giving developers the tools to integrate Snapchat features into other brand applications, Snap is making sure that cross-brand collaborations are more attainable than ever. The Snap Kit includes add-ons for everything including Snap Stories, Bitmojis, ads, Lenses, and more.
Snap’s innovations in AR stem from Ghost, its innovation lab. The lab houses their fellowship program, their prototype track, and their research hub, all of which have grants available for qualifying applicants.
The Fellowship of The Snap
Within the race to reach the AR crown, Snapchat’s progress has been nothing short of impressive. It’s not the first time Snapchat has been the first to make a new feature into a household name. Back in 2016, for example, Snapchat championed the first Stories feature that was then adopted by Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Now, with wearable technology, drones, and digital toolkits taking innovation to the next level, we’re eager to see where the creative minds at the helm take Snap’s vision as the metaverse rises to meet us. We’re also ready for the competition’s answer to these innovations. There’s sure to be more technology and partnerships coming up – and we’re ready to have our minds blown.
Not only that, but influencers are already part of Snap AR – and that won’t change anytime soon. From wearable tech to networking opportunities, creators are taking every chance to partner up with developers and brands on AR content and product testing. If creators aren’t on your radar yet for branded collaborations, it’s time to make a strategic move – if anyone is going to have the AR hook-up, it’s an influencer. And when the name of the game is making those connections early, you know what that means: connect with an influencer now to reap the benefits later.