We won Snapchat’s Breakthrough Lens of the Year

Inês Lúcio, a master’s student at the Interactive Technologies Institute (ITI), has secured the “Breakthrough Lens of the Year” award at Snapchat’s Lens Fest Awards with her innovative Head Anatomy Lens. The accolade recognises outstanding contributions to the Augmented Reality (AR) industry and celebrates developers who joined the Snap AR community in 2023.

Inês Lúcio’s Head Anatomy Lens stands out for its unique blend of traditional anatomy flashcards and AR technology. Snapchat users can engage with their own facial anatomy through embodied experiences, with knowledge maps providing visual representations of anatomical connections. The lens is accessible to everyone with a Snapchat account, offering an interactive and personalised learning environment.

The lens’s development combines artistic skills in illustration tools with technical proficiency in Lens Studio. Inês Lúcio strategically applied augmented reality technology and design principles, with a solid understanding of anatomy forming the foundation for incorporating knowledge maps effectively.

Since its launch, the Head Anatomy Lens has garnered significant user engagement with over 140,000 views. Snapchat’s vast potential audience of around 650 million users underscores the lens’s accessibility, aligning with Snap Inc.’s statement that over 250 million people engage with AR on Snapchat daily.

Having previously worked on Virtual Reality (VR) for oral surgery anatomy teaching, Inês Lúcio expanded her focus to Augmented Reality during a summer internship at the Interactive Technologies Institute. During this time, she started developing Snapchat Lenses using Lens Studio, leading to the creation of the award-winning Head Anatomy Lens.

While the project originated as a summer internship endeavour, Inês integrated it into her master’s thesis in Biomedical Engineering titled “Anatomy Maps: Graph-Inspired Educational Tools to Teach and Learn Anatomy.” Supervised by Prof. Daniel Simões Lopes from ITI and Prof. Renata Raidou from TU Wien, the thesis explores innovative solutions for immersive anatomy learning.

For Inês Lúcio, winning the “Breakthrough Lens of the Year” award is not just an acknowledgement but also a source of motivation. She sees it as recognition for the effort put into developing the lens and a boost to continue contributing to advancing extended reality systems in anatomy education. “I feel very honoured that such a prestigious community of AR developers chose my lens for one out of only six awards”, she says.

Looking ahead, Inês plans to refine the Head Anatomy Lens, making it more educational and less overwhelming. She also envisions expanding the project to cover additional aspects of head anatomy, such as nerves and vessels, and exploring various media, including virtual reality and physical visualisations. Inês Lúcio’s success underscores the transformative potential of AR in education and highlights the impactful contributions emerging from the Interactive Technologies Institute.