Snapchat is working on the ability to scan and recognize objects in the real world

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A Snapchat “World Lense” that lets you place virtual clouds onto the sky.
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Business Insider

Snapchat is working on a feature that can place virtual objects over landscapes and physical objects in the real world, according to a Wednesday report in The Information.

Snapchat can already recognize and morph faces with its Lenses feature, but this update marks “a notable expansion” of Snapchat’s object recognition technology, The Information’s Tom Dotan reports. The update is allegedly being tested in a special version of the Snapchat app for company employees.

A Snapchat spokesperson declined to comment on the report when reached by Business Insider.

In November, Snapchat started letting users overlay lenses onto their surroundings – like virtual clouds on the sky – with an update called World Lenses. While World Lenses can already detect when a camera moves up or down or side to side, the unreleased version would let Snapchat detect physical objects and changes in landscapes through a phone’s rear camera.

The move further indicates Snap’s desire to be a leader in augmented reality, the futuristic tech that could one day replace our phone screens by using special graphics overlaid onto the real world.

As The Information notes, object recognition could allow advertisers to create more specialized, sponsored lenses in Snapchat as its parent company, Snap Inc., prepares its highly-anticipated initial public offering. The company has patented image recognition that can pick out real-world objects in order to serve related filters, ads, and coupons.