In 2018, we saw an explosion of creativity within the augmented reality universe. This year, tens of thousands of people — many for the first time ever — built their very own AR experiences designed to empower self-expression, play, and exploring the world around them.
At Snap, we empower these creators through Lens Studio, which launched just one year ago in December 2017. Lens Studio was a breakthrough in AR software because it enabled anyone to create their own AR experience — a Snap Lens — and share it with their friends, other creators, and the entire Snap community. For the novice user, Lens Studio masks the complex technology involved in AR creation, so there is no steep learning curve. While that was deliberate, and we knew our decision would open up AR creation to the masses, the results have blown us away.
We see artists exploring in a new medium, educators using Lens Studio to teach coding skills, museums and publishers bringing their subjects to life, companies and creators using Lenses to transform commerce, and pro-gamers using AR to connect with their fans.
In the first year of Lens Studio, creators have submitted more than 250,000 Lenses that have been viewed more than 15 billion times.
This is a turning point for AR. With Lens Studio, our community can both experience AR on Snap and be proactive creators. Today, our creative community is engaging, sharing ideas, and pushing boundaries, together. They’re building a global community, together envisioning and building the future of AR for self-expression.
Some of our favorite moments from this year…
Mid-summer, we launched Lens Explorer as a whole new destination within Snapchat to unlock thousands of community Lenses. Lens Explorer marked the first time any Snapchatter could easily browse and discover Lenses made with Lens Studio. Previously, it was mostly up to the creator to promote their Lens. Lens Explorer showcases the most popular Lenses at the top, and you can use the search bar to make browsing for exactly what you want easier. Throughout the year, we also boosted Lens creator exposure through profiles on our website, the launch of our Creative Partners program, and more.
More templates, more creativity
Templates are a huge part of Lens Studio — they bundle up highly sophisticated augmented reality technology into an approachable package that any creative person can begin building with. When we first launched Lens Studio, only a small handful of templates were available, and all were designed for Lens experiences that could decorate the world. In 2018, we launched templates inviting creators to decorate their selfies through face templates, sky, hair, or portraits through segmentation templates, marker tracking, “add from camera roll” — more than 25 in total.
In October, Twitch, the most widely used platform for online game streaming, embraced Snap Camera, our new app that allows any desktop user to integrate face Lenses into their streaming experience. The creative community was quick to climb aboard and within weeks thousands of community creators were creating Lenses designed specifically for their favorite games and characters. Snap Camera also works with any desktop-enabled camera, so you can experience the fun of Lenses on Skype, Zoom, YouTube, and more! We love that Snap Camera broadens the distribution and audiences possible for community-made Lenses and those creators.
In November, we hosted our first ever two-day conference for some of our most dedicated and creative Lens creators. We hosted more than 50 of our newly-minted “Official Lens Creators” at Snap HQ to demo their creations, hear from our team, and learn from each other.
Looking ahead, we see increasing online engagement as a key priority. Creators have a desire to share their creativity in spontaneous and fun ways, and we look to continue supporting this beyond Lens Explorer.
This month, Snap is launching a new type of online engagement with Lens Challenges. Through Lens Challenges, our community is invited to create and participate in Lens-based, crowdsourced storytelling. Our first challenge, the Gwen Stefani’s Jingle Bells challenge, invites Snapchatters to dust off their singing skills so that the community can enjoy their festive performances.
Our prediction is that the next wave of challenges will come not from us here at Snap, but the bustling world of Lens creators who can build AR experiences that dare others to enter into their own challenge.
A huge thank you to our Lens creator community for making 2018 a success! We’re so excited to keep learning with you and supporting your creativity.
The Lens Studio team