The sky is the limit when it comes to augmented reality, but Snapchat's latest innovation is keeping its AR platform grounded.
On Thursday, the company published a pair of new Lenses that highlight its new ground transformation technology.
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The first lens, appropriately named The Floor is Water, turns nearby flat surfaces into virtual water, with a wet floor sign anchored to the area to drive home the point. This particular effect is not welcome in my neck of the woods, where it has seemingly rained constantly for the entirety of 2020.
The second lens, the meme-worthy The Floor is Lava, opens up patches of ground to reveal a river of molten magma. Amusingly, a caution sign also makes an appearance here.
According to a Snap spokesperson, the Lenses are built with an internal version of Lens Studio, the company's AR creation desktop app. The ground transformation capabilities are not available in the public edition of Lens Studio at present, but Snap could enable access to it in the future.
In my brief testing, the water effect is a little less smooth than other tried-and-true AR capabilities on Snapchat, with the camera distorting some objects near the floor. The lava version is much more convincing by design, as it leaves patches of ground in view.
Both Lenses are available in the AR carousel. Alternatively, users can scan the Snapcodes below to unlock the Lenses. Readers on mobile devices can click the links for The Floor is Wet and The Floor is Lava, respectively to unlock the Lenses in the Snapchat app for iOS or Android.
Over the past few years, Snap has made a commitment to investors to maintain leadership in augmented reality. The company has made good on that promise through continued innovation in Snapchat's mobile AR capabilities, from sound recognition, sky segmentation, and hand tracking to speech recognition and image and landmark tracking.
The AR innovations have paid off by going viral and stoking user growth. Case in point, the Gender Swap and Baby Face Lenses gained more than 200 million interactions within the first two weeks of release in the second quarter of 2019. And a Nike in-store AR ad earned the attention of Lebron James himself.
Perhaps Snapchat's latest innovation will inspire an AR revival of the #floorislava meme? Snapchat's stockholders likely wouldn't be mad about that kind of virtual natural disaster.