How Snapchat is Using Augmented Reality to Overcome the Biggest Problem with Virtual Reality
Snapchat may be best known for the face filters, but augmented reality is what the app is working on next. While most people know that Snapchat's parent company is called Snap, they do not know that the idea behind all their products has been to create a camera company — and not just a camera, but one that works everywhere. I have always been interested in tech and how it can shape the future of users — especially virtual reality (VR) and how it is innovating technology so quickly. Snapchat has surprised many by being at the forefront of AR technology. Now they are working on improving this with their new products such as “World Lenses” and their Snap Bands. Here are a few ways Snapchat is using augmented reality to bring immersive elements to life.
The problem with Virtual Reality
The big problem with virtual reality is that it still requires you to wear a lot of hardware. Even if you have the most advanced smartphone and the best VR headset, it is still a significant investment on your part.
Even the most innovative VR experiences, like the ones that Google and HTC are creating for the HTC Vive, require you to wear headphones, gloves, and an assortment of other gadgets.
But Snapchat is trying to overcome these limitations by using augmented reality (AR).
Snapchat has already popularized visual filters that place animations atop your face in photos and videos. It's now trying to do the same with AR.
How? With a pair of AR glasses called Spectacles.
Created by Snap Inc., Spectacles are sunglasses with a camera built into them. They record 10-second videos that can be viewed on Snapchat by tapping on a video icon at the top right corner of the app. You can also swipe right on their video to share it with friends or send it off as a Snap Story. The camera enables users to take hands-free videos of their daily lives and create Snaps to post directly from Spectacles without having to use their smartphones. The glasses come in either black or coral and cost $130.
Tech Companies have solutions to this problem
Snapchat has released their first set of augmented reality (AR) lenses. Similar to the filters you see on your photos, these AR lenses can be applied to any face or body to create a unique Snapchat filter.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel said he "can't wait for people to try these". The hope is that these lenses will provide an experience that is not currently available with the current hardware headsets.
The challenge of AR is that it is incredibly easy for users to forget they are looking at a screen, but the real world still surrounds them. This makes it difficult for viewers to know what is real and what is not.
The way Snapchat's lenses overcome this challenge is by using the camera on your phone, which everyone knows is a screen, and overlaying images onto it so that it looks like it is in the real world.
Snapchat is not alone in using this strategy. Facebook has also started rolling out similar features in its videos and Instagram has launched its own AR filters as well.
Documenting Your Daily Business Life Using Snapchat's AR Technology
Virtual reality is an incredible way to show customers the power of your brand. It is a terrific way to give them a taste of what it is like to shop at your store, or even to experience a product before they buy it. But one thing that can hold businesses back from implementing it is the cost. After all, not everyone can afford the hefty price tag that comes with VR headsets.
But Snapchat is now offering businesses the chance to have their own virtual reality experiences without paying for any pricey equipment because Snapchat is using augmented reality instead.
With this technology, all you need are two ordinary cameras: one in front of you and one behind you. Then all you must do is find a video that includes AR technology and point your phone's camera at it while standing in front of a blank wall. Next, put on the headset and stand in front of the wall again — and voila! You have yourself a virtual reality experience without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on an actual headset.
Using Snapchat's AR to Your Advantage
Overall, Snapchat has figured out how to overcome the biggest problem with augmented reality. An easy entry point, it has enticed millions of users into trying augmented reality for the first time. By making it fun and relatively painless, it can also reap a huge monetary reward for the company. It is an augmented reality app that is both effective and sustainable.
Virtual reality is finding a place in all sorts of industries right now, and that means that plenty of companies is going to want to start using it for their own needs and purposes. With that in mind, Snapchat has brought its efforts to the table. And though it is not standard, it is also not something that most people can take full advantage of. However, it is also possible that Snapchat will continue to develop this technology moving forward and make it compatible with more devices. This would allow even more people to take part in this type of tech, so only time will tell which direction Snapchat takes in the future.
Brands should use this to their advantage. Instead of unsuccessfully trying to impart a grand message on them, simply let them explore what their lives could be like with your products, or even how the product they are using will enhance their life. Either way, it is marketing done right—and it is quite an exciting new frontier.