Local Lenses let users interact with an AR overlays of real-world locations. They can then paint virtual artwork, which becomes visible to any other Snapchat user who visits the place. The process is based on Snapchat's 'Landmarkers' AR framework. That allows users to apply Lenses that interact with global landmarks. Local Lenses do much the same thing, but the scale is broader, and the company has mapped entire streets.
Facebook also experimented with a similar concept. That was its SLAM virtual art installation project, which happened way back in 2017. Snapchat's new effort is expected to tie into its development of AR glasses. Still, Facebook has a more definite stance on that crossover - and Apple is known to be developing along those lines too. A collaboration between Apple and Snapchat on AR wearables might be what it takes for the two companies to challenge Facebook, which is making rapid headway with Project Aria.
Wearable AR is definitely a natural progression from where all the platforms and manufacturers are currently at with offerings. Still, it remains to be seen whether or not Snapchat can keep pace with the fast developing tech and its rivals. Local Lenses clearly seem to be a step in the right direction for Snap. The test is going to be in seeing how the company moves forward and develops on top of that. What's not yet clear is how Snap intends to develop its Spectacles. Will they become a full-blown AR wearable? Nobody knows yet.
Whatever happens, Local Lenses are another entertaining and exciting development for AR - and launches like this might just be a peek at a future which offers new ways to advertise.