As part of the continued expansion of its COVID-19 awareness efforts, Snapchat has this week launched a new Lens experience which uses Snap's advancing image recognition system to trigger a new World Health Organization visual when you scan in a currency note from your region.
As explained by Snapchat:
"Through the Snapchat camera, Snapchatters can scan 23 international currency notes across 33 countries, bringing up an AR visualization of how donations support the World Health Organization’s immediate response efforts to track the spread of COVID-19, ensure patients get the care they need, and provide frontline workers with critical supplies. Snapchatters can then easily donate, and encourage friends to do the same by sending Snaps of the experience."
As you can see here, the process enables users to scan a note via the Snap camera which will then trigger a 3D animation above the note itself on-screen. During the AR experience, users can tap a 'More' button at any time, which will take them through to an information screen on the WHO website where they can donate to the cause.
It's an interesting way to tap into rising usage trends within the app. Snapchat recently reported that it's seen a 50% increase in video calls amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, while people are also spending 25% more time than normal using Lenses.
Given this, it makes sense for Snapchat to look to maximize the reach of the WHO's messaging where users are spending more time - and worth noting too, Snapchat has also partnered with the WHO on an information Lens, which outlines key best practices to stop the spread of coronavirus, as well as a quiz Lens on common COVID-19 queries.
Snapchat has the potential to play a key role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 due to its reach among younger audience segments. While evidence shows that younger people are not as susceptible to coronavirus as older citizens, more recent investigation has indicated that many young people may actually asymptomatic, which means that they could well be carrying and spreading the virus in the community without ever knowing it.
That means that even if the relative risk is lessened for younger demographic groups, they do still play a part in limiting its spread, while there are also still many cases of young people being hospitalized with COVID-19 complications, despite that lower risk level.
The new currency triggered AR experience also highlights Snapchat's evolving visual recognition tools, which Snap has been developing for years, but is just now starting to make more widely available for brand campaigns and ad experiences.
Last December, Snapchat launched new logo-triggered AR ad campaigns with both McDonald's and Coca-Cola, its first steps towards making image-recognition experiences more accessible to brands.
Snapchat actually filed a patent around this type of ad offering back in 2015, which would see the Snap camera used to connect users to various discounts and promotions by scanning in a range of different real-world objects.
Since then, Snap has slowly integrated more image-recognition based tools into the app. Back in 2018, for example, Snap added a new integration with Amazon which enables users to scan in products and/or barcodes in order to see related Amazon listings.
It's taken some time for Snap to move its image-recognition capacity into its ad offerings, but the option could provide a heap of promotional opportunities - and as you can see with this new integration, Snap's camera can now identify a wide range of objects, including different currencies.
That could open up a heap more ad opportunities in future, with the potential for customers to scan in your products or brand logos in order to access AR experiences and/or special offers, exclusively available in-app. Snap's still working on that next level for its tools, but it's interesting to note the progression as displayed in this new WHO experience.
If you're interested in checking out the new WHO AR Lens, you can scan this Snapcode to be taken straight to it.
You can read more about Snapchat's ongoing COVID-19 awareness efforts here.