Snap Inc. is increasingly relying on augmented reality, showing a new version of its glasses with AR and expanding its shopping functions in order to compete with other social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok in e-commerce.

The Santa Monica company has updated augmented reality technology to allow users of the popular Snapchat app to use their voices and gestures to make changes to lenses or animated overlays of photos and videos. The announcements were made on Thursday at Snap’s annual partner summit, where the company will showcase innovations and upgrades to its app.

Mostly known for short-lived videos and its popularity with teenagers and young adults, Snapchat has more than 500 million monthly active users, and around 40% of its members are located outside of North America and Europe.

The new products are a “significant step forward in our platform strategy,” said CEO Evan Spiegel in an interview.

Snap also released the next iteration of glasses, glasses now powered by augmented reality. The product is not available for general sale, but is designed to encourage developers to create experiences that combine the real world with digital overlays. The glasses “redefine the way we deal with the world and see it,” said Spiegel at the summit.

Snapchat also improved the visibility of the scanning feature, which partner companies work with to use the app’s camera to identify plant species, dog breeds, wine bottles and car models, for example. Snapchat users can also scan an outfit and get recommendations to shop for similar looks from hundreds of brands.

The company said it partnered with dating app Bumble to allow users to send their match video notes using Snapchat AR products. It also announced a partnership with Walt Disney Co. to give tourists to Walt Disney World the opportunity to incorporate Snap AR experiences into their visits and photos.

The company also introduced a new way for popular developers to monetize their videos by allowing fans to pay money to send them “gifts” that can be exchanged for cash. Earlier, Snap announced that it would be paying $ 1 million per day to the creators of the top performing posts. It said Thursday that more than 5,400 creators made more than $ 130 million through the program.

Snap’s shares rose 5.9% on Thursday. This year they had gained 7.7% by the close of trading on Wednesday.

Snap hopes its investment in augmented reality will help its app capitalize on the e-commerce boom. As the spread of COVID-19 prevented many people from shopping in person, more advertisers experimented with AR shopping experiences, such as shopping carts. B. so that customers could virtually try on clothes, accessories or beauty products from home. Augmented Reality overlays digital information with real images.

Snap’s entry into augmented reality is only part of its strategy to achieve multi-year sales growth of more than 50% in the future. Other companies such as Facebook Inc., Pinterest Inc., Inc. and the TikTok parent company ByteDance Ltd. have also made new investments in AR.

Snap recently made several acquisitions to strengthen its AR technology, including the purchase of $ 124.4 million worth of Fit Analytics, a technology company that uses machine learning and webcams to enable users to create personalized fitting profiles . The company announced that it is introducing new technology to provide more accurate experiences with glasses, watches, jewelry, and full-body outfits. Other brands can also create their own landing pages for their AR campaigns in the app.

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