23 Dec 2021 | Mike Boland
AWE Talks: AR's Evolution from Toy to Tool
Augmented Reality

Welcome back to AWE Talks, our series that plucks the greatest hits from the vast AWE conference archive. Fortunately, we now have a fresh batch of session footage from AWE USA 2021 to draw from. And 2022's show will already be here in June. 

For this week's talk, we highlight an all-Snap panel discussion about AR's evolving role at the company. Once known for playful fare like dog ears and rainbow vomit, Snap's AR lenses have matured into utilities like commerce and visual search. 

See the full video below along with TLDR (or TLDW) quick-hit takeaways.

– At Snap's recent Lens fest, it announced a new usage milestone: 6 billion AR lens engagements per day.  
– To get to this point, Snap has followed a deliberate evolutionary path "from toy to tool."
– The latter is Snap's target, which is already seen in utility-driven lenses like shopping and search (Snap Scan). 
– But the way to ease users in is with whimsical lenses like dog-ears and other viral selfie fodder.
– This approach engendered an unintimidating persona that has enabled Snap's lenses to scale.
– Another tactic in achieving reach is to bolt AR to a common and frequent activity: communications. 
– The "chat" in Snapchat is in the company's DNA and has likewise created virality in its AR lenses. 
– But again, this all leads up to its maturation as an AR platform, which includes utility-based lenses. 
– In addition to the commerce and visual search use cases noted above, utilitarian functions will continue to grow.
– That evolution will include more lenses that utilize the rear-facing camera for world-immersive experiences.
– Local Lenses, are one example of that, and we'll see many more developments in the coming months. 
– This aligns with Spectacles, as AR glasses experiences are all world-facing, compared to smartphone-oriented selfie lenses.
– In addition to all the above moves, investments in Lens Studio as a platform have allowed it to scale-up creation. 
– And SDKs like Camera Kit amplify lens distribution to third-party apps beyond Snapchat itself.
– For all these evolutionary vectors (world-facing, faceworn, utility-driven), Snap will continue to innovate rapidly. 

  Want more XR insights and multimedia? ARtillery Intelligence offers an indexed and searchable library of XR intelligence known as ARtillery Pro. See more here.  


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