In this new segment, we bring you the last week’s highlights from within the immersive tech industry.
First up this week it’s a new experience from Snapchat. Local Lens from Snap’s UK team is a large-scale, collaborative augmented reality feature within the Snapchat app. The first lens is called City Painter which arms Carnaby Street visitors with virtual spray paint that they can unleash over every inch of the bricks above the shops that line the street.
Snap’s camera engineering team previously produced the Landmarkers feature which enables large-scale augmented reality objects on or around famous global landmarks such as firing rainbows from the Eiffel Tower or placing cute creatures above Buckingham Palace. This new local lens feature was somewhat more complex to create as a 3D map had to be produced from scratch in order to allow users to start painting from any position along the street. On top of this its a shared experience in real-time with other users that again has its challenges with data transfer.
As the camera technology in the device improves we’ll surely see more and more real-world mapped applications, take an AR tour and be guided by a person from history, video games that map perfectly to your environment or live performances streamed directly to your street. The possibilities are endless. If you have the Snapchat app and are close to Carnaby Street you should see a marker on the snap map.
Next up it’s a new spin-off platform from Zoom, the company that have become synonymous with online video streaming since the beginning of the covid pandemic. On zoom is a new platform that’s about to launch in beta mode and allows virtual events for up to 1000 people. It will launch with fitness, music and art-based experiences with ticket prices ranging from free to £38.
Zoom is traditionally a video streaming service to facilitate virtual meetings and has seen a huge rise in popularity over the past 6 months. On Zoom will allow easy scale-up of events with monetisation options, and open it up to much larger audiences. The arts and culture sectors have taken a huge hit this year, with events being cancelled either through force or as a precaution and this new tool could act as an enabler to generate income for many businesses and individuals that are currently struggling.
There will be a central marketplace making it easy to take and manage bookings and payments with Zoom taking a cut of the sales. Does a product like this still have a place once real events return? Only time will tell. The beta phase is currently only open to the US market and you can find out more by visiting on.zoom.us
And finally this week it’s a spooky feature from the team at Amazon. Last week they quietly launched a new augmented reality application that works with QR codes on the company’s shipping boxes.
The app is called ‘Amazon Augmented Reality’, and they describe the app as a fun way to reuse your Amazon boxes until you’re ready to drop them in the recycling bin. Videos on the apps description page show someone drawing a face on a plain white pumpkin shape before bringing that exact same drawing to life as a 3D pumpkin through the AR app. In addition to the pumpkins, there are other animated characters including a Corgi that comes to life from the Amazon smile, And if your phone has tracking capabilities you can wear the objects in selfie mode. This isn’t Amazon’s first AR project having produced a shopping based feature previously that allows customers to visualise home decor products by placing them in the space around them. The new packaging is only starting to roll out now, so it might be a while before you have a box to play with, but if you want to be ready you can download the app from both the iOS and Android stores.