Augmented reality (AR) consists of a “live” view of the real world that has aspects of it that are “augmented” by a computer-generated input such as a sound, video, graphics, haptic feedback or GPS data. Augmented reality is beginning to make its way into mainstream platforms, such as Snapchat. As AR has been increasing in both its popularity and usage, we are now seeing the ways in which it can be used in a variety of different ways and platforms.
The highly popular social media app, Snapchat, has allowed AR to be a large part of their app design, and since it has steadily gained popularity, it seems that the app only plans on continuing to use AR as a critical piece of their overall user experience. Snapchat first introduced AR through allowing the users to “place” an animated object in their camera frame and interact with it. Users were able to dance next to an animated dancing hot dog, walk around an animated rainbow, or even interact with an animation that the user can create to look like themselves. Now Snapchat has been focusing on the role of AR in art, both in showcasing art pieces and in allowing their users to create art that can be used as an AR filter.
Snapchat has also recently introduced the ability for users get in touch with their creative sides through designing their own AR animation or filter that they can use in the app. Snapchat has recently paired with Lens Studio, a separate app that users can download which allows them to design and create various AR filters that they can then upload and use their Snapchat accounts. Users can engage in the design process by creating an avatar or other animated objects through the Lens Studio app to appear in Snapchat as an AR filter that the user can then engage within photos or videos to send to other users. The Lens Studio app makes the process and art of design easy and accessible to all, which allows users the opportunity to personalize their AR experiences like never before.
Snapchat has also taken the application of AR and art a step further by using it to make various art installments by artist Jeff Koons, famous for his giant balloon animal sculptures, available to its users through the app. When Snapchat users are near a piece of Snapchat ART, a special Lens will become available on their screen with an indicator directing them in which direction to look to see the AR art on their phone, allowing the user to both see the art, interact with it, and take photos with it. This makes art interactive, innovative, engaging and accessible to a wide range of people it was not accessible to beforehand. The use of AR helps bring the installations to life and allows the users to experience and engage with pieces of art in an entirely new way. AR digital installations from Koons will soon be available to Snapchat users in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Toronto, Sydney, London, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.
Snapchat has not only been able to show the diverse applications of AR to a wide variety of platforms but has also been able to bring the art of AR and design to a mainstream level that even the least tech savvy can still participate in. By implementing AR into their platform, Snapchat has successfully managed to integrate high-technology developments a part of our day to day lives through making it AR and design easy, accessible and fun for users of any age and background. Whether it be through AR art installations of famous artists, or being able to design your own AR filter, Snapchat is finding innovative ways to be inclusive, engaging and exciting to all different kinds of users.