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Snap at EmTech 2022: Enhancing Our World Through AR

Editor’s Note: Snap’s cofounder and Chief Technology Officer, Bobby Murphy, delivered the following presentation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s EmTech Conference on November 3rd, 2022. Then, Lauren Cason, cofounder and Creative Director of RefractAR, took the stage to share more about the historical, useful, and playful AR experiences that she has built using Snap’s AR tools Lens Studio and Spectacles.
Hi, My name is Bobby and I’m the cofounder and Chief Technology Officer at Snap. It is so great to be here today to talk about Augmented Reality. 
Augmented Reality is an incredibly exciting and hugely important area of focus for us at Snap.
Snapchat, our flagship product, is a visual messaging app that opens to the camera and enhances our relationship with friends, family and the world. But what began as a visual messaging app over 10 years ago has expanded into a platform and an entrypoint for millions of Augmented Reality experiences.
On Snapchat, 363 million people engage with our camera every day. To talk with real friends and loved ones. To try on a new outfit. To learn a new language. Or to see something new and surprising in the world around them.
Experiences like these are used six billion times per day by our global community.
And engagement and excitement around AR is only growing - By 2025, nearly 75% of the global population and almost all smartphone users will be frequent AR users.I’d like to talk about why we at Snap are so excited about Augmented Reality, and why so many people are engaging with it so frequently.
First, AR is inherently a hyper-personalized visual format. In every other visual media format - pictures, videos, games - your experience is fully defined by a creator. But in AR, your experience is a composition of a creator’s imagination layered onto your own perspective.
This means each experience is entirely unique - useful, relevant, and impactful - because you are at the center of it. You see a dragon landing on a building from your own point of view. Your face is transformed with a ridiculous crying expression. Your own hands are reflected as you learn sign language.

As creators, this gives us the opportunity to think about developing content in a completely new way. In fact we’ve found over and over that the best and most engaging AR experiences really leverage this characteristic, by adding to your world rather than replacing it.
And second, great Augmented Reality is designed and developed to be incredibly fast and convenient to engage with. It is enabled by remarkable advances in computer vision and computer graphics that make it possible to both understand and transform images and videos in very sophisticated ways.
These models are able to perceive the names and shapes of objects in an image and render changes to that image in a fraction of a second. So fast, in fact, that we can understand and edit each frame of a video before the next frame appears.This represents a major step forward in our ability to create and interact with all forms of visual media. Images, videos, and live camera feeds can be understood, edited, enhanced, and augmented in real time.
This level of performance allows us to do amazing new things with computing. We can interact with our world and get access to information much faster than we can with voice or keyboard inputs.
Pulling up a menu by QR code, looking up wine ratings, or plant species, or getting help to solve a math problem are all use cases that are enabled through fast visual understanding. And we can visualize changes to our world in ways that would be impossible with much slower image and video editing tools.
If I want to see what I’d look like in a new pair of glasses I can do that in AR. And the speed of AR means that if I want to see those same glasses on me from a hundred different angles, I can do that too, in an instant. In fact with AR, I could even try on many more pairs of glasses, faster than I could click through each of their product pages on a website or try them on in-store. And I’d come away with a much better idea of which of them is the perfect pair for me. Zenni Optical did exactly this, using our True Size technology. Through AR, their glasses have been tried on over 60 million times by Snapchatters.
AR represents an opportunity to weave digital experiences into the world around us, and evolve the way we use computing in our daily lives.We are incredibly excited about where AR is today and where it will go in the future. And we see that excitement reflected in our community, with remarkable growth of engagement across hundreds of millions of people. 

Augmented Reality is not only a massive leap in our ability to transform and create visual media, but a major evolution in how we develop and distribute software experiences altogether - centered around the camera, hyper relevant and insanely fast. It is a massive part of our mobile experience on Snapchat today, and over time, we see greater opportunities for new hardware, like Spectacles, our wearable AR device, to bring it to a new dimension.
We love sharing technology in development with our community and we have seen some amazing work already from creators on Spectacles. 
I’m honored to welcome Lens Creator Lauren Cason to the stage. She’ll be demonstrating the power of augmented reality through the lens experiences she’s so thoughtfully developed. And, in her own words, showing us why “we’re not waiting for the future with augmented reality, it’s already here.”
For more, please follow the hashtag #EmTechMIT