Science

Snapchat launches AR lens that lets you see your organs 

Snapchat has launched a body-tracking augmented reality (AR) lens that marks out where your organs are. 

Users of the popular video-sharing app just have to scan a Snapcode to activate the AR lens, which then uses your smartphone’s camera to identify a body. 

It then locates key organs within the body, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys and small intestine, and provides little-known facts about each.  

The lens, launched in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant to mark World Kidney Day on Thursday, is specifically aimed at younger Snapchatters – who account for most of the app’s userbase.  

It teaches people about the shortage of organs for those awaiting a transplant, particularly those from Black and Asian backgrounds, and encourages young people to talk openly about organ donation. 

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The new lens for Snapchat identifies a body and where each of the organs are. Users can find out little-known information about the different organs

HOW DOES IT WORK? 

– To access the lens, Snapchatters open the app and scan the Snapcode above. 

– To scan a Snapcode:

1. Open Snapchat and point your camera at the Snapcode 

2. Press and hold the Snapcode on your screen to scan it 

– Once activated, Snapchatters will be told to flip the camera and point the phone at a person to access the body scanning technology 

– The Snapchat camera will then track the body in view and identify the organs that can be donated to save or enhance a person’s life. 

Every day across the UK around three people who could have benefited from a transplant die because there aren’t enough organ donors. 

One donor can save or transform up to nine lives through organ donation and save and transforms even more by donating tissue.

Snapchat seems a good choice of platform to make young people more aware of organ donation. 

The largest Snapchat age demographic, making up 37 per cent of Snapchat users, is 18- to 24-year-olds.

To access the lens, Snapchatters open the app and either scan the Snapcode or click on the icon, which says ‘Yes I donate’ at the top, in their lens carousel.

The lens carousel can be accessed by tapping the smiley face to the right of the big white circle on the camera screen.

Once activated, Snapchatters will be told to flip the camera and point the phone at a person to access the body scanning technology.

The Snapchat camera will then track the body in view and identify the organs that can be donated to save or enhance a person’s life, including heart, lungs, eyes, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small intestine. 

Snapchatters can then select specific organs or the icons down the side to learn more. There is also a swipe-up option that directs to the organ donation website.

There are infographics about each organ, featuring interesting information like ‘the surface area of your lungs could cover an entire tennis court’ and ‘your small intestine is longer than you are tall’.  

Meanwhile, our two kidneys, which filter around 180 litres of blood every day, are the most needed organ for transplant. 

The lens, launched in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant to mark World Kidney Day on Thursday, i s specifically aimed for younger Snapchatters – who account for most of the app's userbase

The lens, launched in partnership with NHS Blood and Transplant to mark World Kidney Day on Thursday, i s specifically aimed for younger Snapchatters – who account for most of the app’s userbase

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AR AND VR?

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or situation

  • It immerses the user by making them feel like they are in the simulated reality through images and sounds
  • For example, in VR, you could feel like you’re climbing a mountain while you’re at home

In contrast, augmented reality layers computer-generated images on top of an existing reality

  • AR is developed into apps to bring digital components into the real world
  • For example, in the Pokemon Go app, the characters seem to appear in real world scenarios

NHS Blood and Transplant, which provides the blood donation service for England and the organ donation service for the UK, is also encouraging the public to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. 

It is currently estimated that more than 6,000 people across the are UK waiting for an organ transplant. 

For many patients in need of a transplant the best match will come from a donor from the same ethnic background. 

In the UK there are currently estimated to be at least 2,569 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant and 580 of those are from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, according to NHS Blood and Transplant.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients often have to wait longer for a successful match than white patients, due to a shortage of suitably matched donors.      

‘Working with Snapchat to utilise this new body scanning technology is a really exciting opportunity for us,’ said Holly Mason, deputy head of organ donation marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant.

‘We hope that the lens encourages and motivates people to have a discussion with their loved ones about organ donation and together we can save more lives.

‘By educating younger generations on the importance of organ donation, we know they can lead the way for the future.

‘Our research tells us that young people have the ability to become real changemakers, challenging and inspiring change within their wider family.’     


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