Woah! Snapchat Wants to Map Your World with AR
Snapchat is attempting to take over the world via augmented reality technology. Well, it's more of a virtual makeover than a takeover, but still ...
The patent application, which was filed by the company in 2015 and published on May 4, 2017, indicates that Snap, Inc. plans to map the world in a giant database to achieve smoother AR images with less processing.
The premise is relatively simple: After the database is built, the app — which could be on a smartphone or head-mounted display — will detect where the user is looking and layer pre-placed objects onto their environment. The user's approximate location is vital, so GPS is an intrinsic part of the process.
Your camera could be used to match images taken of your real world surroundings with "structure facade data" (i.e., additional AR info) that Snapchat would add on to the scene. This basically means that the application can use what your camera sees against its data set to work out what's going on around you and place preprogrammed objects there. The report explains:
[A] first positioning system is used to generate a first position estimate. A set of structure facade data describing one or more structure facades associated with the first position estimate is then accessed. A first image of an environment is captured, and a portion of the image is matched to part of the structure facade data. A second position is then estimated based on a comparison of the structure facade data with the portion of the image matched to the structure facade data.
This could be applied to a "reality helmet, an augmented reality visor, glasses, and an augmented reality glasses attachment; and wherein the second client device comprises a smartphone," according to the patent.
It also lists a variety of ways to gather the necessary information which, for the most part, involves a whole lot of photography and matching pictures with locations. It all sounds a bit vague, to be honest, but that might be the point.
As The Verge notes, Evan Spiegel's company may just be trying to cover any and all possibilities in terms of Snapchat's future innovation. Though they are the first social platform to fully dive into augmented reality, and they obviously have no plans to stop.
Who knows what sort of technology people will be using with Snapchat down the line? The gals – myself included – are using Snapchat's AR technology to make themselves prettier (hello, face-thinning filter), not to mention the voice changer.
The world is Snapchat's oyster and I suspect that mapping the world is only the tip of the AR iceberg.