Object, Facial & Audio Recognition along with Spectacles & AR amounted to about 15% of the company's currently publicized patents.
So far Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, has been relatively mum about its plans to stave off copycat competitors and conquer augmented reality (AR). As a newly minted public company, Snap recently held its first earnings call and delved into the performance of its content platform, ad networks, as well as its sales of Spectacles, the company’s camera-laden sunglasses for capturing video. Snap posted a significant net loss of $2.3B for Q1’17, and spent a notable $78M on R&D operating expenses.
While the new numbers give some context on where Snap is presently, studying the patent applications and grants of the Santa Monica-based “camera company” can give forward-looking insight into its product roadmap and innovation strategies. Previously, we published a patent analysis going into the details of its most forward-looking patents. CB Insights subscribers can search and filter for the company’s patent activity by logging in.
Using CB Insights’ patent search engine, we categorized all 55 of Snap’s patent grants and applications by initiative to see some of the trends around patent activity.
Note: this analysis comes with the caveat that the patent data on 2015 and 2016 are incomplete. Due to a 1-2 year time lag at the USPTO, more applications and grants will be published that were originally applied for in those years.
While it may be too early to completely tell where its IP efforts are shifting, 2015 patents have indicated a big jump in the recognition and AR arenas, especially considering the year prior in 2014 had only 1 related patent. Object, Facial & Audio Recognition along with Spectacles & AR amounted to 8 patents published thus far, which translates to about 15% of all Snap’s currently publicized patents.
Some takeaways from the patents breakdown:
- Quietly, Snap may be laying the groundwork for the company’s vision and AR efforts, with 3 related patents in its Spectacles and AR category filed in 2015. (Spectacles are not necessarily a true AR product, but they are the platform on which the company would develop its AR capability, which is why we incorporate the two together.) One patent in the category that came to light recently was titled “Image Based Tracking in Augmented Reality Systems,” and details AR technology that could map onto surroundings and superimpose life-like moving images such as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
- Also related to the AR efforts are the 5 patents it’s sought related to Object, Facial, and Audio Recognition, 4 of which were filed in 2015. As our patent analysis suggests, some of these vision-related use cases range from suggesting a filter based on the object in sight, to reading emotions of users on video calls (pictured below).
- By and large, though, the most popular type of patent has been around its famous UI/UX. So far 10 patents have centered around its app interface, which translates to about 18% of all the company’s public patents published so far. The company’s focus has shifted toward making the UX more personalized according to user data, location, favorite friends, and the like. This patent below was granted August 2016, and it employs geo-location to prioritize messages based on your user data (in this case, seeing where you are and suggesting a related event gallery to add a Story):
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