Snap is betting big on augmented reality commerce. Vertebrae, a firm that allows brands to design and maintain 3D representations of their products, has been purchased by Snapchat’s parent company.
According to a Snap spokeswoman, Vertebrae’s 50-person team will continue to build the platform for existing and new clients. The concept is that a corporation can quickly upload pictures and other information about an item to Vertebrae and have a 3D version created for buyers to view and potentially purchase right within Snapchat.
Snap’s augmented reality technology was initially utilized for goofy effects like puking rainbows and dancing hotdogs, but the business is now seeing AR as a method to shop. Users are more inclined to buy something after interacting with it in 3D, according to early tests of AR shopping experiences, such as a recent partnership with Gucci to allow people virtually try on a pair of limited-edition sneakers.
In an exclusive statement to The Verge, Vertebrae CEO Vince Cacace stated, “We’re excited to join Snap, where we’ll enhance and scale our world-class 3D asset platform for retailers and brands.” “The future of augmented reality commerce is bright, and we’ll keep making it simple for our partners to design, manage, and deploy augmented reality experiences across all customer touchpoints.”
Snap did not disclose the price it paid for Vertebrae, but it was likely a minor sum compared to its $500 million purchase of WaveOptics, the company that creates the AR displays for its Spectacles smart glasses. Vertebrae has so far raised around $10 million in venture capital. On its website, it counts Toyota, Adidas, CB2, and other well-known businesses as clients. In 2019, it collaborated on AR retail technology with Facebook, Snap’s major competition.
It’s simpler to understand Snap’s intentions to be a shopping destination when you combine Vertebrae with the company’s other retail-related acquisitions and features, such as Fit Analytics and Screenshot. Brands will be able to use a self-service system to post and maintain AR versions of their products that users may find on Snapchat. Imagine being able to scan almost anything in the real world and turning it into a virtual object that you can alter, resize, and buy without ever leaving the Snapchat app.
If people really take to AR buying with their phones, it will make Snapchat more of a utility in the near future, as well as make Snapchat ads more effective, because a person’s purchases are a good predictor of other things they could be interested in. Looking beyond smartphones, AR shopping will become more appealing in the future when more people are likely to use smart glasses with displays, such as Snap’s latest Spectacles.