Snapchat's launching a new project which will enable visual artists to place 3D augmented reality art in specific locations, which users will then be able to locate on a map and visit to inspect.
Snap Inc. sparked speculation about the project when they released a new website with a mysterious countdown running.
TechCrunch inquired as to what the site was about, but Snapchat was tight-lipped, saying only that they'd have 'more to share soon'. But savvy web users quickly worked out that you could cheat the system by setting your PC clock forward 24 hours - when you did this, all was revealed.
As you can see, the project will place art in public spaces, which will then be then tracked on Snapchat's map feature.
When you visit the location, you'll be able to look around the virtual installations.
The concept blends art and technology, providing a whole new way to engage audiences with visual installations - one which is much cheaper than actually placing the art in reality. It could also help build community - as we saw with Pokemon GO, by providing people with real world locations to meet up, interactions within the app's community lead to new connections.
Interestingly, Facebook's working on a similar concept - The Social Network recently published a post on SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) which showed how they'd worked with San Francisco artist Heather Day to create new AR artworks which people could explore in set locations.
Normally it's Facebook copying Snapchat, but in this case, it looks like Snapchat's worked to get the jump on Zuck and Co. - though obviously Snap Inc. has been developing the technology for some time.
The option opens up new possibilities for presentation and engagement. At this stage, it doesn't look like an ad option, but there are ways it could be used for marketing purposes. You could, for example, use the location of the installations to target interested users with Geofilters which promote your nearby business.
For artists, the tools will provide a new outlet, and Snapchat will reportedly be offering a sign-up option for creators who'd like their work to be considered for the program.
It's a cool addition, and anything that helps promote the arts is always welcome. But beyond that, if it proves popular, there'll be significant interest from advertisers, possibly through sponsorship, which may provide new opportunities to reach relevant audiences.