:Snap Inc said on Tuesday it is launching a studio to help brands create augmented reality advertising and experiences, part of a move to popularize the use of technology that can overlay computer-generated images onto a person's view of the real world.
The owner of photo messaging app Snapchat first became popular with young users for its early forms of augmented reality (AR), such as photo filters that could superimpose dog ears onto a person's photo, or add a dancing hot dog to a video.
Snap has since staked its future on advancing the technology, launching AR-enabled eyewear and acquiring startups that develop technology to allow users to virtually try on clothing.
The new studio, Arcadia, will help brands build AR experiences not just for Snapchat, but any other social media apps or websites where it wants to place content, said Jeff Miller, global head of creative strategy at Snap.
"The goal is to push the boundaries of what's possible in AR," he said.
P&G Beauty, Verizon Communications Inc and entertainment company WWE are Arcadia's first clients of record, meaning the studio will handle the brands' AR work and strategy, Snap said.
Arcadia, which will operate as a division of Snap, will also work with companies in a project-based capacity, or provide advice to brands and ad agencies through workshops, it said.
Snap will announce a leader for Arcadia in the coming weeks, and the division is expected to have between 25 to 50 employees within the next few months, Miller said.
On Monday Arcadia launched its first AR project with fast-food chain Shake Shack at one of the its New York restaurants.
Visitors to the restaurant can open the Snapchat app and scan a code which will let them virtually try on "Snap Shack" branded clothing and purchase items on their phone, or to see a dancing cheeseburger, hot dog and french fry in the restaurant.
(Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Editing by Jan Harvey)