It turns out that a couple of months ago, Snapchat acquired a startup called Seene (previously Obvious Engineering). Seene lets you capture 3D selfies from your phone with a simple smartphone camera. Snapchat could use Seene’s format for a brand new category of selfie lenses, a new 3D photo format and potentially for future virtual reality projects.
This is no surprise since Snapchat has an ongoing need for novelty to keep its users engaged and sharing fresh content — the lifeblood of its social platform. Apparently, Snapchat was interested in Seene’s computer vision technology and its engineering team more than for its consumer product.
There are many different use cases for Seene’s technology, but they all rely on the same differentiating factor. Seene scans and reconstructs full 3D geometry on your phone. Unlike Project Tango or Microsoft’s Kinect, Seene doesn’t need special infrared sensors and multiple cameras. Similarly, Seene doesn’t need a cloud backend to process 3D scans and recreate 3D objects — everything happens on the phone. That means that you can scan your face in a few seconds and create a 3D selfie:
It would make a lot of sense to use Seene’s technology to improve Snapchat’s selfie lenses — including for advertising purposes. Last year, Snapchat debuted sponsored lenses and charges advertisers an arm and a leg that want to get their brand on people’s faces.)
Snapchat also acquired Looksery to power its selfie lenses last year. Combining Looksery’s technology with Seene’s technology would allow Snapchat to create more ads that people want to touch.
Seene also works with the camera at the back of your phone to capture 3D scenes. Combined with your phone’s accelerometers, it creates a sort of hybrid between a photo and a video; something more interactive. There could be scope to use Seene’s core technology to create content for virtual reality applications in the future, which is an area Snapchat has been rumored to be exploring.
Fingers crossed that Snapchat will be bringing virtual reality to us in the near future! It is likely that advertisers will need to work with a Snapchat advertising agency to create promotions using the new effects.