Snap’s Qi Pan Tells Us How The Latest AR Updates Will Change Our Lives

Pamela Connellan
on 3 May 2022

Snap hosted its fourth annual Partner Summit last week – subtitled Back to Reality. At the summit, Snap released a whole range of industry updates across its products. These updates showcased how the latest Snap’s innovations in AR will weave their way into our daily lives, changing the way we live, learn, communicate – and shop!

What was once a vision for a future with computing overlaid on the world around us is now reality. Camera, today. Here at Women Love Tech, we spoke with Qi Pan, Snap’s Director of Computer Vision Engineering, and he talked about how AR on Snapchat is evolving into a more useful tool, enhancing how we live. We asked him could he tell us a bit more about these AR updates?  

“Yes, there are lots of exciting advancements in AR for sure,” said Pan. “I think one of the things I’d like to start with is Lens Cloud which has the ability for lenses to really become much more advanced. So, with lens cloud, we’re offering three new services which allow the lens to connect to get back to the cloud, and one of them is multiple services. So we’re really being able to allow people to participate and share their experiences through the AR.”

“And there’s a game coming out with Monster’s Inc which will allow multiple people to play in this shared AR game. Another service is location services, so we’ll be launching two types of locations services. One allows our developers to go and scan store fronts or museums and import them into augmented reality. The other one is City Scale and this is what we call City Landmarks and what this allows us to do is to bring an entire area of a city to life in AR. In this case, our first location will be central London,” Pan added.

We asked Pan what will the impact be on shopping because of these new updates from Snap?

“So with shopping I think something like ray tracing which allows for much more realistic renderings of the world around you – and it’s something you would have needed a PC for before but we’ve brought it to the mobile. Eventually this technology will be used for things like clothing – all sorts of assets to really make items look realistic. And with advanced storage services from Lens Cloud, you’ll be able to have much larger assets which look much more realistic,” Pan said.

More on the Lens Cloud

Snap’s 2022 Summit covered the launch of the Lens Cloud – a set of backend services which expands what AR creators and developers can build in AR. As Qi Pan told Women Love Tech: “Our AR community is building real businesses on Snap’s technology. These developers represent almost every country in the world… and have built over 2.5 million Lenses that have been viewed over 5 trillion times.” 

“We’re introducing Lens Cloud, a freely available collection of backend services that vastly expands what developers can build in AR. Storage Services, Location Services, and Multi-User Services will unlock more dynamic, useful, and interactive AR,” he added.

“In the coming months, we’ll launch Storage Services. This makes it possible to build complex and interactive Lenses by storing assets in our cloud, and call on them, on-demand. And, storage is persistent, so Snapchatters can pick up on sessions where they left off last time,” he said. Pan added that Lens Studio will soon feature Ray Tracing, making AR elements look even more true to life.  

“With our Camera for good initiative, we’re working to advance underlying technologies, like machine learning, that bring powerful, helpful, impactful AR into focus,” Pan added. “By building a more Inclusive Camera, Snap can reflect the way people want to appear. We’re testing new Snapchat features like Tone which more accurately captures the complexions of everyone, even in low light.”

The advances in AR and how it will affect our shopping

Since January of last year, more than 250 million Snapchatters have engaged with AR shopping Lenses more than 5 billion times. They also rank Snapchat the #1 platform for sharing shopping moments.

Snapchatters like to use AR for a try-on. Zenni Optical’s AR Lenses have been tried on over 60 million times by Snapchatters. Pan said this week, Snap is introducing several new technologies to advance the way brands can bring products to their customers through AR.

The first is a new technology, Snap 3D Asset Manager, which makes it faster and easier for businesses to build augmented reality shopping experiences. Brands can now request, manage, and optimise 3D models for any product in their catalog. Secondly, Snap is sharing new AI powered shopping Lenses for trying on outfits without ever having to change clothes. Third, there’s a new destination on Snapchat called Dress Up which brings together a roundup of AR fashion and try-on from creators, retailers, and fashion brands all to the one place.

Snap’s Live Nation Partnership

At the summit, Snap also announced a partnership with Live Nation which will elevate performances beyond stages by creating a deeper connection between artists and fans through custom-built, immersive AR on Snapchat. 

From Lollapalooza in Chicago and the Wireless Festival in London, to Rolling Loud in Miami and The Governors Ball in New York… festivals will be transformed through Snap’s AR, starting with EDC in May. 

The latest stats

Snapchat reaches over 600 million people monthly and has more than 330 million active users around the world. The company experienced growth of 20% from 2021. Over the past year, Snapchatters have shared content from our partners’ apps, like songs from Spotify or tweets from Twitter, over 6 billion times on Snapchat.

For more information about Snap, visit here.

For more from Women Love Tech on Snapchat, visit here.

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