I’m not going to lie, I spent way too much time playing with the various lenses Atit Kharel has shared with the world. He made it possible to go from my kitchen in Massachusetts to the Sydney Harbour Bridge in one step — how cool is that?!
From RC cars to learning a new language, I was struck by the variety of lenses Atit has made. I asked him a few questions to learn more about his process.
Q: How long have you been using Snapchat? When did you start making your own lenses?
A: I’ve been using Snapchat for a very long time and was really fascinated by Snap Lenses when it was introduced. I always wanted to know how they worked. When snapchat launched Lens Studio, I really wanted to try it and made my first lens almost three years ago.
Q: Tell us a bit about your experiences creating lenses — what about them appeals to you, and what kinds of lenses do you like creating?
A: The thing I like the most about creating lenses is you can bring your imagination into the real world through AR. Once you start creating lenses, it is almost impossible to stop as new ideas keep surfacing. I create different kinds of lenses from face filters to mini games.
Q: In what ways do your lenses currently use machine learning?
A: I’ve made lenses with custom segmentation, style transfer, object recognition, etc., using machine learning. Currently, I’ve been creating lenses to help people learn new languages using AR and ML. Using [these] lens[es], people can just point their phones at an object to scan it. The name of the object then appears in a different language with a phonetic transcription to make it easier for users to pronounce the word and learn the language one word at a time.
Author’s note: Atit currently has lenses for learning Hindi, Chinese, Nepali, and Spanish, just to name a few. While a great support item, the lenses are not intended to replace traditional language learning.
Q: Do you build those ML models yourself?
A: I’m new to machine learning and have been trying out different ways for lenses to use it. For my lenses using object recognition, I’ve been using pre-trained models and trying to build my own models as well with small datasets. For other lenses like style transfer, I train my own models.
Q: As a Lens Studio Creator, what opportunities do you think a tool like SnapML provides?
A: The combination of AR and ML can greatly expand the possibilities of what we can create. With tools like SnapML, the opportunities for augmented reality to move beyond the entertainment space is increasing. With custom ML models in SnapML, the boundaries of what can be created [are] endless. It lets creators express their art in a way no other tool can.