Snapchat already offers some great augmented reality (AR) features, but an alleged new acquisition suggests it could also get involved with VR soon.
TechCrunch is reporting that the social media giant has purchased Seene, a company with a 3D photo app that allows users to capture 3D models on smartphones with a standard camera. The site states that the purchase was made a number of months ago and was done in the interest of securing its computer vision technology and engineering team. It also speculates that this could lead to a new category of selife lenses within the ever-popular Snapchat app itself as well as a new 3D photo format and, enticingly, VR applications too.
While actual figures aren’t available, TechCrunch notes that the price of the acquisition was “low”, with the startup having previously raised some $600,000 in investment. The Seene team will apparently be relocating from both their US and London offices and heading closer to Snapchat headquarters in Los Angeles, California.
You can see Seene’s impressive 3D capture technology at work in the video above, in which a user effortlessly builds a 3D model of his face on a smartphone simply by taking a number of pictures using the given phone’s front-mounted camera. The model is then placed on a 3D avatar as an example of how this tech could be used, though it has many more potential applications, allowing you to scan virtually any object and bring it into real world environments on-screen or use them in other ways.
It sounds a little like Google’s Project Tango 3D scanning for phones, and it is, but the key here is the reliance on that one simple camera rather than specially made sensors. In terms of VR, Seene could make bringing real world objects into VR a much faster and more accessible process than ever before, though Snapchat obviously hasn’t made its intentions in this field clear.
This could be big for VR. Imagine being able to go shopping, take a few pictures of an item, then send it back to someone at home with a headset to make sure it was the right product. Or perhaps you’re about to head into a virtual meeting and want to quickly represent yourself with images of your face like in the example above. This could all be possible with the help of Seene.