Snap just deployed an interesting new tool in the battle for AR supremacy on Snapchat.
The company is finally utilizing Bitmoji, a company it acquired for $64 million last year, to integrate virtual avatars of its users into the real world. As Business Insider reports, you can download the separate Bitmoji app to create your own stylised personal 3D avatar of yourself. Then you can bring that avatar into Snapchat and place it in the real world just as you can other virtual characters like the dancing hotdog using your phones rear-mounted camera.
This is all free to do and gives you a range of new options from inside Snapchat itself. In the GIF below, for example, you can see an avatar skateboarding with remarkable animation quality. This adds a level of personalization to Snapchat’s AR filters we haven’t previously seen.
“Bitmojis have an emotional, playful appeal,” a Snap spokesperson told Business Insider. “Our community often uses them daily on Snapchat and elsewhere as a personal extension of themselves.”
Snapchat has long been a leader in using AR filters on smartphones, but it’s about to face stiff competition. Apple’s ARKit deploys later this year on its latest smartphones and the company is taking aim at Snapchat with facial recognition features that will allow you to project virtual characters onto your own head and more. Similar services from Google and Facebook also mean that Snapchat has its work cut out for it if it’s to stay relevant.