After the March 2016 news by CNET that indicated that Snapchat was moving towards hardware, many didn’t see this happening from their pattern of hires over the past last few months, we should have known better than doubt the $16b social photo app service. News making the rounds yesterday indicates that Snapchat has now joined the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG); an industry group that runs the Bluetooth technology standard. The CNET report notes that Mark Dixon, a former Microsoft recruiter for the HoloLens headset, is now a member of Snapchat’s team. A portion of his LinkedIn profile reads: “I’m currently building capabilities for a stealth group here on Venice Beach.” Dixon, who also helped staff Microsoft’s Xbox division, describes himself as “a gadget guy” who’s passionate about “advancements in consumer electronics” at his LinkedIn page.
Eitan Pilipski, who was hired by Snapchat in January as an engineering director, joined after a five-year stint on Qualcomm’s Vuforia team. The Vuforia software harnesses computer vision techniques for augmented reality, or AR, experiences using smartphones and smart eyewear.
Now that we know that Snapchat may be launching its augmented reality (AR) glasses soon, they now join the ranks of Microsoft and Google who have all invested in the technology at one time. The closest example to the technology is the Pokémon Go app which made some serious headlines and has broken quite a number of usage and installation records (good and bad).
While virtual reality (VR) puts you in a computer generated environment using the right hardware like head and hand gears, AR takes this a step further by blending VR with the real world. While the AR market has slowly evolved, it has been around for a while now and has more practical applications in the real world.
Snapchat has gradually evolved into a platform for content creators (including big brands) unlike the initial attraction of disappearing photos which attracted millions of teenagers to the app in the first place. Snapchat has evolved to become a major player in live stream and videos in addition to a list of services. The 150 million user strong social platform has been the first to launch services like “stories” which the likes of Facebook’s Instagram have now adopted without necessarily changing the name.
Snapchat already has a service that allows users to customise selfies with animations which tells anyone now reading this that Snapchat has at least played around with some level of AR before and is just about to take it to the next level using its specialised glasses.
In a CNBC report, it’s not been all bad news for the AR market which according to market watchers has “200,000 units of AR technology ship in 2016, increasing to 7 million unit sales in 2020, with a market value of $3.8 billion.”
The report also highlights the awareness around the technology that the Pokémon Go craze has created and with giants like Google and Microsoft placing a bet on it, 2017 might just be the year of the AR. This is not to say the VR market is doing all well because of the many brands that have indicated interest in the technology, only Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have started shipping at least so far in 2016.