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Middle East Creators Win Big at Snap Inc.’s ‘Build the Future Lensathon’

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Snap Inc. recently announced the results of its worldwide ‘Build the Future Lensathon’, which called on augmented reality (AR) creators from around the world to come up with innovative and engaging AR experiences to help people express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together. The competition engaged more than 3,000 developers internationally who competed for $200,000 in prizes.

Denis Rosiev, a budding designer and creator from the UAE, won the global competition and took home $40,000 in prize money. Meanwhile, creators Ibrahim Boona from Saudi Arabia and Mohamad el Asmar from Oman each bagged silver awards worth $5,000 each.

Commenting on his victory, Rosiev said, “I’m a big fan of pixel and voxel art – everything square and low-poly. Initially, I wanted to build a Lens that turns everything into voxels, but later it evolved into the idea of a full-featured voxel scanner that can be used to create art. I like the freedom Lens Studio provides: it’s so powerful that I was able to build a robust tool inside a Lens!”

Making it to the top among hundreds of submissions, Denis’ LiDAR Lens, VOXELIZE, is a real-time AR voxel scanner that exports 3D models as .glbs. VOXELIZE’s intuitive two-finger touch gestures can be used to effortlessly scale and rotate the voxel grid for precise resolution selection and alignment with the walls or borders of the target object. A built-in machine learning model automatically segments objects from the background, streamlining the scanning process. Scans can then be exported as .glbs for editing in any 3D software. VOXELIZE has a broad range of applications across construction, architecture, interior design, and more.

Speaking about what’s next in store for VOXELIZE, Rosiev added, “I’m planning to build an actual iOS app using Snap Camera Kit. It will open more possibilities, such as in-app scan storage and direct export. As Lens Studio evolves, I’m going to use this technology to build experiences where users can scan, edit and share cool voxel objects between different lenses and locations.”

Talking about the brilliant talent discovered from the region, Jake Thomas, Head of UAE at Snap Inc. in MENA, expressed, “We are pleased to see young creators within the region’s creative community not only share their passion and showcase their talent to a global audience but come first place and thrive within the rapidly evolving AR ecosystem. It’s exciting to see creators push the boundaries of AR development and build their careers with Snap’s advanced AR tools. We will continue supporting our AR community and we look forward to offering more global opportunities for local creators here in the MENA region.”

Other winners hailed from countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, India, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.

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WhatsApp Now Transcribes Voice Messages on Android

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Calling all Android users who dread lengthy voice messages: rejoice! WhatsApp is rolling out voice message transcription to its beta app.

This feature, already available for iOS users since May 2024, is now part of the WhatsApp Beta version 2.24.15.5 for Android. It automatically converts voice messages into text, making it easier and faster to understand conversations.

Currently, transcriptions are supported in five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, and Hindi, with more languages promised in the future. Users opting in will need to download an additional data package to ensure all transcripts are generated directly on their devices, maintaining message privacy.

This update brings Android users closer to iOS users in terms of features and highlights WhatsApp’s commitment to improving the overall user experience.

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WhatsApp Trials AI Image Generator

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Calling all creative minds! WhatsApp is testing a new feature that uses AI to generate personalized avatars. Imagine yourself as a superhero, chilling on a beach, or even exploring space – the possibilities are endless! WABetaInfo discovered this feature in the latest Android beta update.

Here’s the tech behind the magic: a combo of user images, text descriptions, and Meta’s powerful AI, Llama. “Take photos of yourself once, then imagine yourself in any setting from the forest to outer space,” reads the screenshot on WhatsApp. The way it works is in the Meta AI Chat: users can type “Imagine in…” or “@Meta AI imagine me…” as a text prompt. A user’s likeness will then be used to generate the personalized image.

While there’s no official release date yet, this exciting feature is entirely optional. It joins the recently launched in-app custom sticker maker, showcasing WhatsApp’s commitment to fostering creativity within the app. This, alongside their ongoing development of AI chat functionalities, highlights Meta’s focus on making WhatsApp a platform that embraces both technological innovation and user expression.

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YouTube’s New Eraser Tool Now Removes Songs Without Ruining Your Videos

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Good news for creators! YouTube has rolled out a major update to its eraser tool, allowing them to effortlessly remove copyrighted music from their videos without sacrificing other audio elements like dialogue or sound effects.

In a recent video, YouTube acknowledged that the previous version of the tool needed improvement in terms of accuracy. This new iteration addresses that concern by utilizing an AI-powered algorithm that precisely detects and removes unwanted songs while leaving the rest of the audio intact.

However, YouTube’s support page advises creators that the algorithm might not always achieve perfect separation. As an alternative, creators can opt to “Mute all sound in the claimed segments,” effectively silencing any portions potentially containing copyrighted material.

Once the edit is finalized, YouTube automatically removes the content ID claim, a system designed to identify the use of copyrighted material within videos on the platform. This allows creators to proceed with their uploads without copyright concerns.

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