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Snap has been teaming up with top AR innovators from around the world to trial some of their latest hardware. We’re lucky enough to be one of them.

As one of Snap’s creative partners, we recently got to try a test model of their Next Generation of Spectacles: sunglasses that allow users to merge real and virtual worlds through seamless AR integration. As they’re not yet available to buy, we crafted an experience to show you just how transformational this product might be, both for the industry and for our future lives.

Next Generation of Spectacles

The new Spectacles are designed to project virtual images onto the real world, removing the limiting nature of a phone screen by creating fully immersive AR experiences seen through your very own eyes. The instant you pop them on, the landscape you see before you can be enhanced by a whole new dimension of objects, information and interactivity. And with a Spatial Engine that boasts six degrees of freedom along with hand, marker and surface tracking, the opportunities for developers are endless. 

Which all sounds great, but it does still leave you wondering: what does it actually look like? Well, that’s what we set out to explore. 

Mindful Musings: A Guided AR Meditation

There are already a plethora of apps aimed at helping us to relax and unwind, but studies show that the simple act of walking in nature can have a far greater impact on our stress levels than being tied to our phones. 

And what’s unique about new Spectacles, compared to all of these stationary apps? You can go hands-free. So, we created a walking mindfulness experience where users were guided by a narrator through a series of exercises designed to stimulate their senses and transform their engagement with their surrounding environment. All, of course, are powered by AR.

The Experience

The first thing we did was invite our users to find a quiet and peaceful place to walk. Then, to begin the experience, we placed an AR ball in the center of their vision which expanded and contracted in one slow breath. So, by mimicking its movement, users were able to regulate their own breathing and boost their oxygen levels.

Once calm, they could start their walk and begin to absorb the sights, sounds and smells around them. And to help them truly appreciate all of this beauty, we used 3D Hand Tracking to allow them to illuminate the landscape with a brilliant ball of light held in the palm of their hand. 

The only challenge was: people have become accustomed to a level of tracking accuracy and fluidity through their smartphones which is still being refined in new Spectacles. This meant we had to look for ways to simplify the users’ interactions, as well as adjusting the animation of our 3D objects in case tracking was momentarily lost.

Considering the potential of 3D Hand Tracking in a smartphone is already enormous, imagine what it could be like with Spectacles, where we’ll have both hands free to interact!

The final stage of the experience was focused on sound. To complement the natural sounds of the users’ environments, we added three different fluid shapes which, when touched, each emitted a different calming sound; inviting a moment of peace and reflection. 

But creating peace out of a variety of sounds wasn’t easy!

First, we had to select an instrumental base track for the whole experience which would establish a general calming tone. Then, we had to design bespoke sound effects for each of our three fluid objects which would be able to harmonize with both the base track and one another. In the end, we managed to create this synergy by only using tones that came from the harmonic scale of our base track.

And even at the very end, we stayed true to our handsfree philosophy. Once the user had completed their meditation, all they had to do was say ‘end meditation,’ and our voice recognition software would automatically bring the experience to a close, without users needing to lift a finger.

But of course, that didn’t have to be the end of their journey. Because just like the originals, the next generation of Spectacles also allow people to share videos or photographs of their experience.

So one person’s walk could help bring a little tranquility to hundreds more.

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