Snapchat has quietly purchased augmented reality startup Seene, with plans to incorporate its tech into its app.
If you’re wondering what that means for you and your silly (sorry, stupendous) snaps; the simple answer is that your visual messages could go full-on 3D. But there’s a lot more to Seene’s consumer technology than just 3D selfies — and it all ties in with Snapchat’s rumored plans to expand into virtual reality.
Wait a second, that’s not to downplay the value of a 3D selfie. After all, it sounds pretty darn cool, don’t you think? A closer look at the little-known Seene app reveals that it allows users to scan and recreate full 3D geometry on a smartphone. Unlike other augmented reality tech — including Google’s Project Tango, the Microsoft Kinect, and Amazon’s short-lived Fire phone — Seene doesn’t rely on several cameras or infrared sensors to pull off this feat. Instead, it simply uses your phone’s camera to quickly scan your face and reproduce a 3D render.
Additionally, Seene can utilize your phone’s rear camera to apply those same functions to real-life 2D objects. The app itself was envisioned as an Instagram for 3D scenes, reports TechCrunch.
Having quietly acquired the U.S. and London-based startup for a reportedly low price, Snapchat is now interested in absorbing its computer-vision tech into its own app. To achieve that goal, it is planning to shift the majority of Seene’s team to its headquarters in Los Angeles. Although Snapchat has not released an official statement, the acquisition could spell the end for the Seene app.
The startup’s experience and central technology could also be used in the VR hardware Snapchat is rumored to be working on, and the apps it will no doubt need to develop for said products.
The immediate future, however, could be about expanding the popular lens filters that have taken over the popular messaging app. It is thought that Snapchat’s face-swap option could be the reason why its daily usage numbers have overtaken those of rival Twitter. The allure of engaging 3D images will also appeal to potential advertisers and media publishers, who are already flocking to take advantage of the app.