Snap's new AR tools turn photos into 3D assets, let retailers use Snap's AR tech in their own apps
At Snap's Partner Summit on Thursday, the Snapchat maker announced a number of new initiatives focused on using its AR technology to aid with online shopping. Most notably, the company is introducing a new in-app destination within Snapchat called "Dress Up" that will feature AR fashion and virtual try-on experiences, and it's launching tools that will allow retailers to integrate with Snapchat's AR shopping technology within their own websites and apps, among other updates designed to ease the process of AR asset creation.
The company has been making strides with AR-powered e-commerce over the past year, having given its computer vision-based "Scan" feature a more prominent placement inside the Camera section of the app and upgrading it with commerce capabilities. Earlier in 2022, Snap also rolled out support for real-time pricing and product details to enhance its AR shopping listings.
These improvements have yielded increased consumer engagement with AR commerce, Snap says. Since January 2021, more than 250 million Snapchat users have engaged with AR shopping Lenses more than 5 billion times, the company notes.
Today, Snap announced it will put AR technology more directly into retailers' own hands by allowing them to use Snap's AR try-on technology within their own mobile apps and websites, with Camera Kit for AR Shopping.
This AR SDK (software development kit) will bring catalog-powered shopping lenses into the retailer's own product pages to allow their customers to virtually try on their clothing, accessories, shoes and more. At launch, the feature works on iOS and Android apps, but Snap says it will work "soon" on websites, as well.
Its first global partner to use the technology is Puma, which will allow shoppers to virtually try on its sneakers using the Camera Kit integration. Shoppers would simply point their phone at their feet to see the sneakers they're considering appear in an AR view.
Retailers will also gain access to a new AR Image Processing technology in Snap's 3D asset manager, which Snap says will make it easier and faster to build augmented reality shopping experiences. Through a web interface, brands will be able to select their product SKUs and then turn them into Shopping Lenses, allowing them to create new Lenses in seconds, and for no additional cost, Snap claims.
To do so, partners will upload their existing product photography for the SKUs they sell, which Snap's tech will then process using a deep-learning module that turns them into AR Image assets. This process uses AI to segment the garment from the brand's model photography, essentially turning standard photos into AR assets.
These assets can then be used to create new try-on Lenses which can be used by shoppers at home who take a full-body selfie photo.
Virtual try-on using full-body images. Image Credits: Snap
The company is also adding new AR Shopping templates in its Lens Web Builder to turn those assets into Lense more quickly, without the need to understand AR development. Select partners in apparel, eyewear and footwear can try this out in beta today, and Snap will later expand the feature to include furniture and handbags.
Related to this, Snap is giving AR shopping a bigger spot within its own app for consumers.
Snapchat will introduce a new in-app destination called "Dress Up," where users can browse and discover new try-on experiences from creators, retailers and fashion brands in one place. "Dress Up" will be first available in Lens Explorer, but will soon be added one tap away from the Camera in the AR Bar.
Snap's Dress Up feature. Image Credits: Snap
Users will be able to return to outfits and other products they liked by navigating to a new shopping section from within their Profile, where they can view the items they've favorited, recently viewed and added to a cart.
As another example, Snap says that Zenni Optical's AR Lenses have been tried on over 60 million times by users, and Lenses that used Snap's "true size" technology were shown to have driven a 42% higher return on ad spend compared to Lenses without the feature.
Finally, in the realm of virtual fashion, Snap's Bitmoji is getting an update, too. There are now over 1 billion of these mini avatars created to date, which people like to dress up in virtual fashion items. Snap says fashion brand partners will now be able to drop "Limited Edition" fashion items for Bitmoji exclusively for Snapchat users.