Snapchat Scores A Slam Dunk With LeBron James AR Lens

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Snapchat‘s latest AR lens is an instant viral hit with over 2 million views in two days.

With accomplishments including several Olympic gold medals, multiple NBA MVP awards, a handful of NBA Finals MVP awards, and many appearances in NBA All-Star Games, LeBron James is often considered the greatest basketball player in the world. He’s also a philanthropist, and was listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Did we mention that the man can dunk a basketball like it’s one else’s biz?

A new Snapchat AR filter for House of Hoops by Foot Locker will have King James (as he’s known in some circles) bursting right out of a Nike poster in super slow-motion. As the 2D image of the legendary athlete morphs into reality as a 3D digital model, it slowly speeds up into real-time just as King James soars overhead and slams the basketball through the hoop with one of his powerful, iconic slam dunks. He slams the ball with so much authority, in fact, that at one point he almost popped a basketball.

The AR image is incredibly cool and will surely impress any basketball fan.

It’s so impressive that LeBron himself tweeted out a video of Snapchat’s AR experience with the hashtag #Striveforgreatness. His tweet picked up over 1.25 million views in just the first hour. Since then the video has amassed over an incredible 2 million views, 12K retweets, and 51K likes.

The team behind the project, Fishermen Labs – who have created digital experiences for companies such as Hardee’s, Walmart, as well as the Ghostbusters franchise, and have worked with the United Nations – used Snapchat’s updated Lens Studio to create the impressive AR experience.

Image Credit: Twitter / LeBron James

In an interview with VRScout, Eden Chang, co-founder of Fisherman Labs, talked about creating the viral AR experience. “The latest version of Snapchat’s Lens Studio allows for target tracking which means we could affix the digital content directly to the poster versus just using the poster as a marker to unlock the AR content,” Chang continues, “when it came to choosing imagery, we thought about doing a lot of things such as LeBron in motion with the ball going up in the air for an alley-oop dunk, but we are all Laker’s fans here, and we landed on the idea of recreating his very first iconic dunk as a L.A. Laker.”

If you want to experience the Snapchat King James AR experience, you’ll have to make your way to the Foot Locker store on the Hollywood and Highland Center in Los Angeles, use your phone to scan the Snap code, and then point your device in the direction of the special Nike artwork that features LeBron James – but that’s all the way in Los Angeles! What if you’re in Upstate New York, or somewhere overseas?

Don’t worry, we got you covered; simply scan the Snapcode image below and then point your camera to the above image of King James to bring the AR experience to life.

It may not be as impressive as seeing it come to life on a lifesize poster, the way Cheng, Snapchat, and Nike would want you to experience it; but you’ll get the idea.

In the beginning of 2018, Snapchat had 84.8 million active users, but that number has grown in 2019, with over 90 million users snapping and unlocking other AR filters. That is an impressive jump for a company that at one point was losing the faith of users, as well as its investors. However, the fact that the company has leveled off and holding steady is considered a positive sign for the social media company, who just recently saw its stock jump up nearly 20%.

For Cheng and the Fishermen Labs team, the LeBron James AR experience was a surprise success. “We’re really happy how it turned out. The growth was so organic with over 2 million views in 2 days,” said Cheng, adding, “I’ve never seen something like that track so organically, especially for AR.”

What does this success mean for future AR experiences like this? Cheng feels that this could really help bolster AR exposure for people who’ve never tried it, “because LeBron’s reach is so wide and he connects with so many people on many different levels, some of those 2 million people who watched that video may be people who have never experienced AR until they saw our work, and that’s because of LeBron James’s reach.”

Either way, Snapchat, and Fishermen Labs have a slam dunk with their viral Nike/LeBron James AR experience. After all, if Shaq can partner with Magic Leap for an AR experience, why not basketballs GOAT, King James, with Snapchat?

If Cheng is right, we can all thank LeBron James in about 5 years for being an influential earlier adopter of augmented reality technology.

You can download the latest version Snapchat’s Lens Studio for free.

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