Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, is showcasing new technology to boost augmented reality (AR) shopping experiences for both brands and users. At its annual Snap Partner Summit (2022), the company made a host of announcements focused on its AR technology as well as new software features for driving an AR shopping experience from the retail side.
“Snapchat has changed a lot over the years, and our camera has become far more powerful – evolving from a way to communicate visually in a Snap into an augmented reality platform. On average, people interact with augmented reality Lenses on Snapchat 6 billion times per day, using computing in totally new ways through our Camera,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said during the keynote.
For its AR Shopping experiences, Snap plans to introduce AI-powered shopping Lenses for trying on outfits. Lenses on Snapchat are the equivalent to filters on other platforms, and typically involve an AR element to them. It is now adding a dedicated destination on the Snapchat app called Dress Up. This will bring the best of AR fashion and try-on experiences from creators, retailers and fashion brands all in one place for users to experience.
It will be made available in Lens Explorer, and will encourage users to browse, discover, and share new looks from around the world. Snapchat users will also see a shopping section within their Profile, where they can locate products they have favourited, recently viewed, and added to their cart. Snap says that any brand’s Lenses will be considered for Dress Up if they’re available on their Brand Profile.
It is also showcasing new technology that will let retail partners build these AR experiences more easily. “Traditionally, creating those AR assets has taken a lot of time and effort for businesses. We now offer a direct service to create 3D models for these AR assets. Businesses can just upload the assets into their accounts with us; this is the same interface that they use to buy advertising, etc. From here they can choose templates for any category,” Carolina Arguelles Navas, Global Product Marketing Lead at Snap, told indianexpress.com.
Businesses will be able to render different types of products into AR from eyewear to shoes to any other real world object, ranging from a piece of furniture to a handbag. “We automatically pull in different types of tracking and technology to render that image in AR,” she explained.
It will also offer a new AR Image Processing technology for businesses. This technology allows businesses to leverage existing product photography they have produced for their e-commerce websites and transform them into AR-ready assets for Snapchat’s AR try-on Lens experiences. It will partner with Puma first, and Ralph Lauren later on as part of early testing for AR shopping.
But Snap is not limiting the AR experience to its own platform. It is also adding new tools within the Camera Kit for shopping to let businesses plug this same AR experience onto their own websites, and apps. The feature will be in beta, though. The company plans to roll it out more broadly post beta-testing. “It’s an additional feature set that we’ve honed in, specifically for retailers. It is not just integrating our Snap AR tech into their app. It’s also integrating into their commerce back end so that we can automate the creation and the distribution of those AR experiences. We’ve enhanced the feature set for them,” Arguelles Navas explained.
Snap is also bringing Ray Tracing to its Lens Studio feature. This will let developers and businesses create Lenses that are true to life, an important aspect to make AR more realistic. It is partnering with Tiffany & Co to showcase this with an upcoming Lens where their signature “Bird on a Rock” broach gleams and takes flight.
“Ray tracing allows us to increase the realism of products which is especially important in Try On. But it is very difficult to actually work across mobile devices, not just the newest device or across both iOS and Android. And that’s something we’ve really invested in to be able to work across all of the device types as well as again,” she said. Further, Snap announced that creators will now be able to build Lenses featuring 3D Bitmoji, which come to life.
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