How Snapchat Became The Leader In AR Without Really Trying

On any given day, Snapchat (NASDQ: SNAP) reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States. Reggie Brown’s sexting-app idea metamorphosed and it’s captured zeitgeist of a generation.

Having grown from non-existence to 150 million daily active users in just about half a decade, Snapchat is where Facebook was 10 years ago. Its popularity has been meteoric and it’s not just because it’s is such an amazing picture-taking social media app.

Granted, 35% of its users say they use it because of the disappearing photos feature. However, ephemerality was only the beginning for Snapchat. It has facilitated the growth of a generation of creators and sharers and by introducing filters, animated filters and now, Snap Spectacles, which is succeeding where Google Glass failed. In short, there is no telling the limits to what Snapchat has to offer. Its IPO valued Snapchat at almost $24 billion. This marked the biggest tech IPO in the US since Alibaba.

Universal took a $500 million piece of the Snap IPO. It will likely be worth much more to the future.

From Baby Boomers to Generation X, Y and Z, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Snapchat has covered a gap we didn’t realize or even cared existed — not just emulating real life, but enhancing, or augmenting, it. Snapchat allows us to share our experiences in 10-second blurbs of sight and sound,  almost as fast as the speed of life, often with our own digital commentary combined with the shared image.

Late last year Snap acquired an Israeli company Cimagine, which now has over 100 engineers working on Augmented Reality. Snapchat is going to ride a wave of innovation that will amplify what it’s already doing.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented Reality (AR) is simply data and graphics overlaying and reacting to the real world.  Virtual reality, on the other hand, completely replaces the real world with a digital one.

While AR technology has been available for years in military and video gaming, only the most recent consumer devices can handle it. But costs have come down, and technology has improved, and will soon enable smartphones to provide more compelling AR apps (see my article on Phantogeist, which was developed with financial support from Google). With Apple mobile AR rumored to be on the way, AR is poised to explode. Who’s positioned to benefit the most from this dramatic development: Snapchat.

AR phones’ depth sensing camera allow new applications like facial recognition, room mapping, and depth effects, revolutionizing every app on your phone, and unleashing a wave of innovation. In particular, AR is going to revolutionize mobile’s games that are already generating billions without it. Games may have the money, but Snapchat which is already AR by another name, has the audience.

Continue reading this article at Forbes.

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