Snap Inc., the company behind the popular instant messaging app Snapchat, is patenting a beauty product tutorial feature that uses augmented reality. The system lets users preview makeup styles on their faces and access guides on how to apply them.
Fig. 1. An AR tutorial carousel, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention.
The feature works similarly to Snapchat filters: using live images of a person to simulate the application of beauty products, accommodating user motion. The live images may be processed to give a clearer view of the AR effects such as zooming in on the user’s eyes if the beauty product being previewed is an eye shadow.
One’s AR appearance may be customized in the app, with options including changes to a beauty product’s color, brush size, as well as application size and thickness. Snapchat says the feature may help users grasp complex makeup techniques and reliably achieve their preferred appearance.
An AR tutorial carousel would allow users to quickly preview a range of makeup applications. After settling on the desired look, a user would be presented with a dual-screen view comprising a recorded tutorial and a live view of their face.
An AR tutorial would incorporate the presenter’s motions, and relay that information to the user to help them accurately recreate the makeup technique. The app would use object recognition to determine how well a brush, for instance, is being used compared to the tutorial. This may be informed by the number of pixels between a brush’s position in consecutive frames of the AR tutorial.
Fig. 2. Illustration of a point of entry to an AR beauty tutorial, in accordance with some embodiments of the invention.
The patent application also indicates the system’s potential as an advertising medium. This means Snapchat may display purchase options for beauty products displayed via AR. Snapchat already has a self-serve advertising platform that gives businesses access to $4.4 trillion in spending power from the app’s over half a billion users.
When it comes to cosmetics, in particular, the AR tutorial feature taps into a $288-billion industry. This figure is expected to reach over $415 billion by 2028, despite setbacks from the COVID-19 crisis.
In-app purchase options for beauty products could also accelerate the digital shift for cosmetics sales, given that before the pandemic, in-store shopping still accounted for up to 85% of beauty product purchases. This includes Millennials and Gen Zers—Snapchat’s primary user base—who made nearly 60% of their purchases in stores.
The featured patent application, “Augmented Reality Beauty Product Tutorials”, was filed with the USPTO on March 24, 2021 and published thereafter on September 30, 2021. The listed applicant is Snap Inc. The listed inventors are Christine Barron, Virginia Drummond, Jean Luo, Alek Matthiessen, Celia Nicole Mourkogiannis, Jonathan Solichin, and Olesia Voronova.