Snap has introduced ray tracing technology to its AR Lens Studio for developers around the world, the company announced on Wednesday. Ray tracing is a technical capability that allows for realistic renderings of light and shine on AR artifacts. Snap has partnered with Tiffany & Co. to launch the first Lens built with ray tracing. The Lens lets users try on Tiffany Lock bracelets using AR and purchase them directly within the app.
The company notes that it’s the first to offer ray tracing capabilities on mobile at this scale. Ray tracing technology is typically incorporated into offline applications, such as console games, but Snap is now bringing the ultra-realistic quality to mobile.
Ray tracing simulates the way light behaves in the physical world by using an algorithm to trace the path a beam of light would take in the real world. As a result, developers can make virtual rays of light appear to bounce off digital objects and create realistic reflections. Ray tracing can enhance the quality of any Lens that features objects where lighting bounces and is reflected on their surface, such as metals, stones and glass surfaces.
“Snapchatters love using augmented reality to try on products from beloved fashion brands, making the shopping experience personal, accessible, and fun,” the company said in a blog post. “Today, we’re excited to announce Ray Tracing which is now available in Lens Studio to developers around the world. Now, Lenses that feature AR diamond jewelry, clothing and so much more can reach ultra-realistic quality.”
Snap recently said 250 million Snapchat users have engaged with its AR Shopping Lenses more than 5 billion times in 2022. Given that shopping Lens creation is an area where Snap has been working to improve its technology, it’s no surprise that the company has introduced ray tracing to its app to enhance this experience even more. The new AR improvements announced today could also give Snap a way to better compete with larger social media companies.
Last year, Snap updated its Lens Web Builder that allowed brands to create shopping Lenses in a matter of minutes. Snap also announced it would begin offering retailers access to a new AR image-processing technology in its 3D asset manager that makes it easier and faster to build AR shopping experiences.
The company recently partnered with Amazon for its augmented reality-powered Virtual Try-On shopping experience. As part of the partnership, Amazon began offering Snapchat users the ability to digitally try on eyewear styles from a range of popular brands. We understand the broader plan is to kick off the partnership with eyewear, but expand into other categories in the months ahead.