Technology: Snapchat launches 3D lenses

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 19:00

Since Snapchat launched in 2011 its features have been copied by tech companies around the world; Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and more have introduced their own versions of disappearing stories. Other companies have introduced lenses and filters to their products, allowing you to alter your appearance Snapchat-style. Now, the app is hitting back by taking its filters to another dimension, literally.

The social network, now worth more than $28 billion, is allowing users to add 3D lenses when using the rear camera. The lenses can be placed in the camera view and it is possible to move around them in three dimensions.

Snapchat says since it launched lenses 18 months ago, the feature has allowed people to become puppies, vomit rainbows and swap faces with friends.

In this time, augmented reality game Pokémon Go became a massive hit, showing how AR technologies could be popularised into a mainstream app.

The 'New World Lenses' from Snapchat are the firm's biggest push into AR technology to date. Building on its current lenses, the development from Snapchat uses the rear-facing camera and lets users add objects in front of them. The new lenses can be accessed by tapping on the screen when sending snaps using the rear camera.

A promotion video (above) from Snapchat shows the new lenses allowing flowers to be planted in the ground and a rainbow to be placed above a group

of people who are sitting at a table. The lenses are spatially aware and allow for an object to be placed into the real world.

Snap, the company behind Snapchat, says the lenses will update daily and they may also change over time. As Snap completed its multi-billion dollar IPO earlier this year it described itself not as an app or social network, but as "a camera company".

The move to add more augmented reality lenses is one that sees the company build on its camera abilities. "In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones" Snap's IPO documents published in February said.