The Art of Facial Lenses

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The Art of Facial Lenses


By: Michaela Bull



If you are one to engage in Snapchat then you are more than likely familiar with the use of a filter. A filter refers to Snapchats very own artificial intelligence lenses or “facial lenses”. The use of facial lenses has spread like wildfire as users worldwide engage in an estimated 10 million filtered snaps per day. With this popularity it makes sense that competitors are scrambling to keep up and stay current.


The technology for Snapchat was first developed from a startup in the Ukraine called Looksery, which was later acquired by Snapchat for 150 million dollars. The way it works is that the camera first detects your facial features through an algorithm called the Viola-Jones Algorithm. This Algorithm calculates areas of contrast on your face on a grey scale. This helps the device in identifying where all of your features are on your face. This is how filters with applied makeup and accessories are possible. The augmented reality filters also use a now dated tool of computer vision to first identify the object or face in focus. Computer vision has been around for some time now; it is what enables a device to identify objects and to be able to tell if it is looking at a 3-D space. The Technology then uses trained data to get a more accurate and detailed portrayal of the face in frame. The trained data is executed by using statistical models of the face that have been manually trained by people marking the features of thousands of sample images. Using both the Viola-Jones Algorithm and trained data, the device is able to identify a mesh or mask on the face. From this 3-D mask, the device is able to then filter anything they please onto video or still data.


The technology of Snapchat is pushing the boundaries of interactive engagement and utilizing an opportunity of revenue through the use of ads. Snapchats ability to run facial recognition in real time on a mobile device sets them apart from anything out there. Competitors like Facebook and Instagram have been said to be working on similar abilities. I think there are many more advancements we will see soon from both companies soon.






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Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism