Snapchat today released the Avatar Lens AR filter, which will make you look like a Sims character. It makes you look exactly like you would in the metaverse. Use the Snapchat app to open the camera, scan the QR code from Snapchat’s website, and then take a look at how smooth your skin looks in the metaverse. There, freckles are not common.
Although a new Snapchat lens may not be immediately notable, given that the company is all-in with augmented reality, this is just the continuation of a long-running, viral trend. If the past is any indication it will go viral and appear on TikTok very soon.
Snapchat’s Cartoon Face Lens was released in August 2020. Users realized that it could be used to “Disneyfy their pets” — the tag #disneydog was posted to TikTok and received 40.9 million views. Snapchat made viral again in December with the Cartoon Lens. This produced more realistic results for human faces that the previous version.
The app continues to produce slightly better versions of this trend which go viral. Humans are so predictable.
The Cartoon Style 3D Lens was released in June. It received 2.8 billion impressions its first week. The Avatar lens makes your clothes look cartoonish and not just your face. Next, how about a lens that makes your surroundings look like it was created on Horizon Worlds. Probably.
Snapchat hosted Lens Fest earlier this month to celebrate its AR technology. Snapchat announced that over 250,000 lens creators are from more than 200 different countries at the event. They have combined made 2.5 million lenses, which have been viewed over 3.5 trillion times. On Snapchat’s TikTok clone Spotlight app, 12,000 creators were awarded a total of $250,000,000 for their posts. According to the company, more than 65% of Spotlight submissions are made using one of Snapchat’s creative tools and lenses.
Snapchat and Niantic believe that AR is more suitable for building the metaverse than virtual reality. Even for Meta, a headset-loving tech giant, AR can make us look more like ourselves in the metaverse. Snapchat Avatar filters make me look unrealistically Barbie-esque, but it feels more personal than my Meta Horizon avatar which looks just like any other white woman with brown hair.
It’s still disorienting to see ourselves in this way. My Snapchat avatar looks just like me, but my eyebrows look perfectly groomed. My lips look fuller and plump, even though I haven’t applied any makeup today.
We need an avatar in the VR metaverse to represent ourselves. Otherwise, we are just an invisible blob. To help us create our virtual personas, startups like Ready player me, Spatial, and Genies have emerged. Augmented reality is about altering the world so that we can engage with it more deeply. Snapchat’s AR filters can be fun but we don’t need avatars in AR metaverse. We already know how harmful it can be if we only present the best version of ourselves online.