The surging augmented reality activity in both the business and consumer sectors is accompanied by a wealth of updates and partnerships from Snap Inc.
Thursday, at the company’s Snap Partner Summit 2021, a wide variety of tie-ups and new features were unveiled, with some of the biggest brands in the world joining the AR battle.
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Perhaps the most notable partnership is Snap’s new effort with the Lego company. While Lego is known for allowing children of all ages to use plastic building blocks to create art, toys and even robots, Lego fans can now build Lego structures together, remotely, through a new Lens Studio feature called Connected Lens. The new feature is available immediately via Snapchat.
In the future, the idea of two users collaborating remotely on an AR model through something as widely accessible as Snapchat is groundbreaking. Currently, a number of high-quality AR solutions facilitate such interactions. But even if Snapchat’s Connected Lens is less detailed and / or responsive than some advanced solutions (we have yet to test it), the core feature of remote AR collaboration through Snap’s powerful toolset is something that will likely soon be exploited beyond the realm . of Lego fun and in the design and business arenas.
The new capability is part of just released updates in Lens Studio 4.0, including a new 3D Body Mesh feature, Cloth Simulation, and a Visual Effects Editor designed to help creators make their AR creations look even more realistic. see.
Another important partnership launched on the virtual stage of the Snap Partner Summit is Bumble. The dating app is now using Snap Kit to engage its users. Starting this week, when daters use the Bumble app to match with each other, they can now use Snapchat AR to include a variety of virtual backgrounds in their video chats.
The business ties didn’t stop there. Snap has also engaged several companies to use AR try-on capabilities to sell fashion and beauty products. Zenni Optical now uses Snap AR’s “True Size” technology to help consumers select eyewear and sunglasses, Piaget uses Snap’s wrist tracking to help buy watches and jewelry, and luxury brand FarFetch now uses Snap’s more than 40 voice commands to do things like take a picture of a fashion selection or move on to the next item in a product range.
Prada also now shows a way to select and change the color of products for sale through a Snap Lens using nothing but gestures through Snapchat. Demos of all interactions were shown on stage and were quite impressive when you consider that this is all done via smartphone and tablet, not via an AR headset.
Snap also announced a partnership with Disney World that will allow park visitors to use the Disney app to capture and share memories in augmented reality. The prospect of seeing the Disney Castle in AR is fascinating, but more importantly are the possible Snap Map integrations that could be hidden in the parks as AR Easter Eggs.
Aside from these links and demos, Snap has also launched two other business-centric tools that are likely to lead to more adoption from companies looking to use AR to engage customers. The first is Snap’s new API-powered Lenses feature, which will soon give businesses access to the Snap Business Manager tool to easily upload entire product catalogs, allowing real-time price changes and specials to integrate seamlessly into the company’s existing Snapchat lenses. The feature was illustrated with sports and performance statistics from Major League Baseball and the running / cycling app Strava.
The other business tool is called Public Profiles for Businesses, which allows businesses to create permanent locations where Snapchat users can find the brand’s AR lenses and Snapchat stories. In addition to a showcase for interactive promotions, the profiles will also include store pages, making it easier for users to click through and hit the “buy” button from AR experience. The company plans to eventually integrate the Snap Maps feature with these pages, making these business profiles even more useful when traveling through cities.
Overall, Snap had a really big day, announcing enough new product features and business partnerships to fill an entire year, let alone a quarter. With Apple’s App Store finally experiencing some setback (courtesy of Epic Games), Snap’s aggressive push to help businesses small and large and meet with a wealth of AR tools could bring new momentum and value to what was once limited was down to the limitations of purely social media experiences.