Snapchat's Lens Studio helps create your own AR effects

Anyone can make augmented reality objects to share with the world.

As fun as Snapchat's augmented reality World Lenses can be, there are only so many times you can see a headphone-toting hot dog before you crave something new. Wouldn't it be nice if you could make your own? Well, you can: Snap has unveiled a Lens Studio tool that lets anyone on Mac or Windows create their own AR effects for use in Snapchat. You do need some experience in 3D object creation, but you're otherwise off to the races -- you can submit your masterpiece and give others a Snapcode to unlock it. Those codes only last for 24 hours, unfortunately. However, you can share codes again if you like, and recipients can share them with others and spread the word.

And yes, Snap is aware of the potential for abuse. There's an initial moderation process to make sure a World Lens isn't offensive, and you can report Lenses to a moderation team if offending examples somehow slip through the cracks.

This isn't just to enable hobbyists, as you might have surmised. Snap sees this as a business play -- companies should have an even easier time whipping up AR advertising. It's also an acknowledgment that Snapchat has had trouble growing as a closed platform. While it's not guaranteed that opening World Lenses to everyone will put Instagram on notice, it could foster a community spirit that keeps Snapchat fans coming back.