For Snapchat users wondering if that selfie is ready to send to their crush, independent Lens Studio creator Andrew Mendez created a handy tool called the Smile Rater.
The lens is simple yet effective. A white bar floats over the user's head, showing a rating of one through 100, accompanied by a corresponding smiley face. The number improves based on how large the user's smile grows. A frown will show up as about an eight, while an open mouthed show of excitement scores the user a 100.
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Smile Rater, like all augmented reality lenses on the app, utilizes computer vision. Pixel data from the smartphone's camera identifies the user's face, then the color value for each individual pixel allows the software identify human faces, thanks to the contrast between light and dark.
The Smile Rater Lens takes advantage of Snapchat's active shade model, which helps the program locate individual facial features, and allows the Smile Rater to decipher the shape of the user's mouth, as well as how far apart their lips are. You can try the Smile Rater yourself right now by opening Snapchat (iOS and Android) and scanning the yellow Snap code below (or via a link to the Snap code here).
"My goal is to explore new human-computer interaction paradigms and research ways to create technology that enhances innate sensory and mental capabilities," says Mendez, a graduate of Cornell Tech with a dual degree in Information Science and Connective Media.
Although Mendez has a technical background, Lens Studio nevertheless simplifies the Lens creation process, thus allowing him, and others, to create experiences that have the potential to engage and inspire Snapchat users around the world. On his official Lens Studio creator introduction video, he framed the software platform as an opportunity for indie creators to produce a wider range of creative augmented reality experiences.
The fact that anyone can now download and use the Lens Studio tool means that the AR field is now wide open for non-technical artists, designers, and even regular users looking to share their AR creations with general Snapchat users as well as potential clients.
Some of the more popular Lens features in the past have included laser beams that can shoot out of your cat's eyes, the ability to give your dog a top hat and monocle, and a stop sign showing up on a user's hand when they hold their palm up.
And while even those simple Lens filters show AR's power to connect people with technology, we're beginning to see ever more complex Lens filters that show how advanced and immersive Lens Studio can get. But sometimes, all we want is a little extra confirmation that our smile is smiley enough and, for that, Smiler Rater is the perfect AR window into our virtual souls.