Snapchat Dives Into Augmented Reality With $30 Million Cimagine Acquisition


Alternate reality technologies (virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality) are taking the industry by storm. While relatively few consumer applications exist at this point, the field is set to explode as more and more companies jump on board. Count Snapchat among them. The photo and video sharing service that turned the messaging world upside down has acquired Cimagine, an Israeli startup with an augmented reality platform for retail stores.

Cimagine has a handful of notable clients that it works. The biggest is Coca-Cola, which Cimagine says utilizes its augmented commerce platform to help its sales teams sell three times faster and see a 20 percent lift in sales. It also serves furniture Jerome's, an American furniture franchise, and Shop Direct, a digital sales company in the U.K., according to the company's LinkedIn listing.

Cimagine's technology allows stores to visualize what a product will look like in their specific location. Just as Pokemon Go uses a smartphone's camera to place cartoon characters in real world settings, Cimagine uses a much more advanced platform to place objects in stores. As seen in the video above, this allows a Coca-Cola sales person to plop a virtual soda cooler in a potential customer's store so they can see what it would look like. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

It will be interesting to see what Snapchat does with this acquisition. One thing it could do is create more elaborate campaigns and promotions with third-parties—Snapchat collaborated with Starbucks earlier this year with a special filter (or "lens," as Snapchat refers to them) to help promote the coffee chains loyalty program.

Snapchat could also pursue a separate commercial business through this acquisition, or it could simply be interested in the experienced programmers that co-founded Cimagine. Whatever Snapchat has up its sleeve, it appears to be a low risk buy—it reportedly paid between $30 and $40 million for the Cimagine. Snapchat earned around $59 million last year and is worth north of $20 billion.

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