Augmented reality is here, but did you notice?


Augmented reality is here whether you like it or not, but while Facebook, Google, Amazon, or Apple might build core experiences around the smartphone camera, a few existing apps are already leaders in the field.

First, Snapchat. You can't scroll through a social media feed without seeing one of Snapchat's ubiquitious face filters, which are really just AR overlays. They recognize aspects of my face and react digitally, in real time, as I talk, move, or make facial expressions. The magic happens locally on the device and on Snapchat's back-end, but most Snapchat fans probably don't think about the "how" part of the equation; it's just fun.

Next is Memoji from Lightricks, which turns any selfie into an animated emoji. Lightricks is also behind Facetune, which uses machine learning to let people completely change how they look in the app—give yourself a new nose, chin, cheeks, teeth, etc.