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Who would’ve ever anticipated that one of the greatest impacts that facial recognition would have on society would be through Snapchat lenses? Face filters and AR lenses have become so much more than kitschy ways of spicing up how we communicate.

AR filters have altered the way that people view themselves:

Snapchat dysmorphia started to become known in late 2018, when stories surfaced of people getting plastic surgery to look more like their Snapchat filters.

AR filters have crept their way into important live events.

We’ve seen a reporter inadvertently report the weather with a face filter on. A little more seriously, we’ve seen a political livestream disrupted by a cat face filter. I don’t think we’ve even begun to scratch the surface of AR filters on live TV, mainstream media, and live events. As the use of live streaming creeps into more areas of media, we’ll likely see more experimentation with AR augmentations.

Cute bunny ears and blushing cheeks aside, there’s an entire surrealist art movement happening through the means of these AR filters.

AR filters, most importantly, have championed the growth of Snapchat.

Viral lenses have been key to Snapchat’s recent success. On its latest earnings call, Snap’s CFO Derek Andersen said the company’s new AR lenses resulted in an estimated 7 million to 9 million of the 13 million daily active users Snapchat added during the period.

Kaya Yurieff, CNN

Any AR filter could be the difference between a good quarterly earnings call and a poor one.

The gender-swap lens, for instance, immediately permeated Internet culture, becoming a fun thing to do with friends and a viral moment for celebrities, all while giving the media a load of material to write about on gender norms and the morality of this lens. Likewise for the aging filter, the filter that turns you into a baby, etc… 

AR lenses are proving to be valuable Internet commodities. As we look toward the future, what are some opportunities we see surfacing here?

Emerging Opportunities

First, would be a marketplace for AR lenses and filters. There are some disparate places to download lenses on Svrf, Lenslist, or directly on Snapchat / Instagram. For creators, especially, there’s no great way to make money from AR filters at the time being. You can sell packs on Etsy, one-off design projects on Fiverr, or let Snapchat connect you with brands. However, consolidating the AR lens shopping and customization into one marketplace would be very effective.

Second, there’s obviously demand to not quite be ourselves online. Building AR filters further into our virtual personas would be interesting. In other words, how do I bring this augmented virtual persona to all different platforms that I use? This is very much a metaverse concept.

Third, why hasn’t any designer created limited edition AR lenses with blockchain certificates? We’ve already seen the impact of exclusive shoe releases, clothing, etc. with the Hypebeast generation. Exclusive AR filters could very easily be added to this list. The entire digital art space needs to adopt blockchain anyways in order to create true artistic value, proof of provenance, and exclusivity in their works. AR filters that were only limited to the first 1,000 downloaders could bring in a lot of revenue. And it would play along nicely with the whole AR filter Marketplace idea.

AR lenses and face filters have already proven to be quite useful in many ways to the digital society. I wouldn’t count out any crazy ideas in this space.

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