ARPost often talks about applications of extended reality in fields like enterprise and education. However, most people who use extended reality use it for more… social pursuits – what’s called social AR.
“Social AR” – augmented reality used through social applications on mobile devices – is an innovative and competitive market. The three main platforms offering social AR – Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram – report hundreds of millions of daily active users. That includes over 180 million on Snapchat, according to a press release shared with ARPost.
Now, a trend on another social media platform has inspired Snap to up their game in an update to their Social AR creator tools.
What’s Your Favorite TikTok Dance?
Newcomer TikTok was late to arrive on the social AR scene and its social media efforts thus far have been almost exclusively in the realm of advertisements. Further, at the time of this writing TikTok’s future – at least in the United States – is uncertain.
Social media platforms have had a long history of exchange. If you’re on more than one social media platform, think about how many times you’ve seen a meme format or viral post move from one platform to another.
However, this exchange has been accelerated as social media users and competing platforms alike look to move on a potentially endangered trend – the TikTok dance. These popular dances are typically whole body affairs. While they seem the perfect candidate for some AR magic, not even fully invested social AR players like Snapchat had the tech. Until recently.
Dance With Snap Lenses
If you use Snapchat, you’ve probably used social AR on Snapchat. Filters are ready available on the platform and are regularly promoted in conjunction with various campaigns. For the more creative souls, there’s Lens Studio.
Lens Studio is Snapchat’s creator tool that allows the public to create their own AR effects within the platform. That’s already exciting but it gets better. As promotional content for Lens Studio and its recent update is quick to point out, once a video is created with Lens Studio it can be shared anywhere.
Lens Studio has been around for a while. The real news has to do with an update that brought body tracking. The tool has already been able to do “upper” body tracking but the update has more than doubled the number of joints tracked, allowing for full-body AR effects.
The update allows both effects based around the body movements, and effects triggered by body positions or movement sequences – both great augmentations for the dance craze.
A press release and some phone calls wasn’t going to be enough to debut an update like this. So, Snapchat paired four popular Snap Stars with four popular Lens Creators to create the first four fullbody lenses to showcase the new tech.
The Star-Studded Debut
“We really wanted the colors to pop and be super vibrant, so we designed it to create a rainbow aura to emphasize your movements and grab the attention of someone watching this Lens in use,” Trudinger said in the release. “We also built the Lens to amplify any sudden stops in movement, so you can dance and pose to trigger the AR effect of a white silhouette into a colorful burst.”
Musician and Snap Star Loren Gray worked with Lens Creator Max Van Leeuwen to create the “Alone” lens. The lens, inspired by Gray’s song of the same name, creates lines and shapes that appear and move with the user’s body in a way reminiscent of lines used to show motion in comic books. While the song doesn’t (yet) have a cinematic video, the lens is in keeping with the spirit of the extant lyric video.
Lens Creator Abbas Sajad (Abz) worked with Snap Star and musician Dixie D’Amelio to create the “Be Happy” Lens. Like “Alone,” “Be Happy” is inspired by a song of the same name. The Lens creates the words “Be Happy” as well as fun hand-drawn weather effects.
“When you use the Lens and throw your hands in the air, the rain and dark clouds disperse, bringing in the bright sun,” Sajad said in the release. “To keep the Lens natural, I drew all these effect animations by hand, frame by frame.”
Play With Social AR
While these four debut lenses are fun, the whole point of social media and tools like Lens Studio is based in user-generated content. One of the main reasons that XR enthusiasts talk about Social AR is that it introduces users to XR. However, XR doesn’t just need users – it also needs developers and artists. Hopefully, tools like this one will inspire that next generation of XR creators.