One of my favorite parts of the day is dropping off and picking up my three-year old son at preschool. To make the commute more fun, I started playing with Snap Inc.’s Custom Landmarkers feature to create site-specific AR experiences at his school. I was inspired to try the new capability shortly after it's release last March.

My first test had Spiderman breakdancing on the school’s steps. That cracked my son and his friends up. But while I was testing and playing with it, it became clear this persistent digital content lends itself to creating something more educational and episodic. The space in front of a school is great for this kind of experience.

Since the kids learn about a new letter of the alphabet each week, creating location-based AR experiences using the alphabet made sense.

What it does

The project is called The ABC Corner. I’ve been launching a new letter every couple of weeks. The lenses can give parents and children a surprising and delightful educational moment during a part of their daily routine.

How we built it

It was built using the Custom Landmarker template as a starting point. I scanned the corner using the Custom Landmarker lens and it just worked. I used behaviors to control the sequence of the lens and the animations of the phoenix model, which was created by the talented Norberto Aguilera. A particle system was used to give the impression that the phoenix was moving forward in space. I wrote and created the music in Garage Band. I went for an Encanto-vibe, because my son's a huge fan and it goes well with the colorful phoenix.

Challenges we ran into

The Custom Landmarkers just worked, which was stunning. The biggest production challenges we ran into were Lens Studio-related. These were all minor. The most frustrating was the ordering of behaviors. The ability to reorder them in the Inspector panel without copying and pasting would be fantastic.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

The looks on the faces of children and parents when they play with the lenses has been the greatest part of working on the project.

What we learned

When I started the project, a study Neuro-Insights, Zappar and Mindshare produced in 2018 came to mind immediately. It showed that 3D and AR content has a 70% higher retention rate vs. 2d content. Digging into research on AR and preschooler education, I learned AR also improves motivation, enthusiasm and concept skills. Doing work that could contribute to that is very exciting.

What's next for The ABC Corner

I will be focusing on creating either a single lens (using Lens Cloud) or an app (using Camera Kit) that contains all of the letters. Kids want options, so having them limited to a single letter at a time isn't optimal. I've begun conversations with child education experts to bring their expertise to the content. Having that kind of input is crucial. I'll also be applying for a Ghost Innovation grant to help plan and build the most scalable version of the Corner.

If you're ever in Greenpoint and want to try the lenses out, go to the to find all the letters.

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posted an update

My last updated includes a new audio feature, with the voice over talents of my 3-year old son. I think the kid's a natural (maybe I'm biased?). I also updated the video to include a section of unedited game play.

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