October 25, 2020

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Snapchat Announces AR Support for Apple’s New LiDAR Capability for iPhone 12

3 min read

The next stage of AR is coming, and Snapchat looks to remain at the forefront of the tech.

This week, Apple announced the launch of its new iPhone 12, which, among other advances, includes a new LiDAR scanner, which will improve digital mapping of real-world scenes.

LiDAR, which stands for ‘light detection and ranging’, measures how long it takes for light to reach an object and reflect back. In practical terms, this enables greater depth-mapping by establishing a better understanding of objects within a frame, and will facilitate the creation of AR tools that can better interact and respond to real-world cues and objects.

Apple LiDAR

And as you can see in the first example, Snapchat is already working with Apple on maximizing the new technology for its Lenses and other AR tools.

As reported by TechCrunch, following Apple’s launch announcement, Snapchat confirmed that it would be among the first companies to be implementing LiDAR enabled AR tools within its app, while it’s also updating its Lens Studio to enable creators to build their own Lenses utilizing LiDAR detection.

Of course, these new Lenses will only be available to iPhone 12 users, but it adds another element to Snap’s AR capacity – while it also, interestingly, further establishes Snapchat’s connection with Apple, which could be particularly relevant as we move into the next stage for AR development.

That next stage would be AR-enabled glasses, which several companies are now developing, including Facebook and Google. Apple is also developing a new AR wearable device, which could be launched as early as next year – and as Apple looks to develop a consumer-friendly, fashionable AR device, it could look to partner with Snap to advance both of their tools, and fend off competition from Facebook.

Snapchat would love to convert its Spectacles into fully AR-enabled glasses, but thus far, it seems like Snap’s a long way off keeping up with the tech giants in developing the next stage of the technology. But Snapchat has the ‘cool’ factor, and experience in bringing wearables to market. It could make sense, then, that if Apple wants to maximize its own AR glasses offering, it could partner with Snap to launch a new version of Spectacles, or similar, which incorporate Snapchat’s key AR functions into a more consumer-friendly package.

I mean, Apple may not necessarily need Snap for this, but Snapchat is a leader in AR development, and could provide some enticing, engaging options to help shift more units. And as noted, Snap already has a history of working with Apple on its AR developments, including this latest example.

LiDAR-enabled AR Lenses are one thing, and will add a range of new options for Snapchat. But AR Spectacles could be the end goal, and could end up being a solid offering to match up against Facebook’s Project Aria-inspired device.

Either way, we’ll get some interesting new AR options soon, which could open up new ad opportunities and improved virtual placement tools for furniture, clothing, etc.  

But AR Spectacles would be something. Watch this space.

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