Big Ben Brought Back To Life Through AR Snapchat Lens

A new Snapchat Lens helps keep the memory of London’s iconic Big Ben alive during its three year renovation.

London’s most iconic clock tower, Big Ben fell silent back in 2017 due to necessary and crucial conservation work that promises to safeguard the clock on a long-term basis. When in operation, Big Ben strikes a deep note of E every hour with smaller bells chiming every 15 minutes, filling the air for every Londoner to hear. Shutting down Big Ben meant that those bells would be silent until 2021, according to a parliament statement.

However, the city of London won’t have to wait that long to once again hear the chimes of Big Ben (also known as Queen Elizabeth Tower and the Great Bell) thanks to a new Snapchat AR lens. U.L. users can point their smartphones towards Big Ben, and what they’ll get is a life-size AR experience that peels back the scaffolding surrounding Big Ben to reveal a newly restored clock inside of a giant snow globe with a message of ‘Happy Holidays’ written in a candy cane font. Turn up the volume on your phone because you’ll also hear Big Ben’s bells ringing into the air.

The AR lens is activated by using the current look of Big Ben, scaffolding and all, to launch the effect. Unfortunately you won’t be able to view the AR effect using a photo only. Some Snapchat lenses use geofilters as part of the launching mechanism. This means that you’ll have to be close to a specific location to launch the lens.  In this case, you need be within 300 meters of the actual Big Ben structure to receive the holiday message and hear the bells.

You’ll even get the correct time on the clock face!

In a press release, Eitan Pilipski, VP of Snap’s camera platform said, “We are thrilled to unwrap Big Ben for our Snapchat community in London. This holiday, we wanted to showcase the imaginative power of Snap’s Augmented Reality experience by deconstructing the scaffolding around Big Ben – at least for a few special moments.”

Before Big Ben went silent and had scaffolding erected around the great clock, it was one of the most popular locations in the UK for group photos, selfies and Snaps. Because of construction, there hasn’t been a lot of photos of Big Ben on social media; believe it or not, that can actually hurt tourism.

Snapchat’s AR lens gives visitors an opportunity to get that photo of Big Ben instead of walking away disappointed while simultaneously putting Big Ben back into the good graces of selfie-takers, social media fanatics, and hashtags; much to the glee of the London tourism bureau.

By the way, when you flip the camera around to take a selfie, the AR lens will also put a Union Jack hat on your head.

Sure, it’s not the same thing as seeing the real Big Ben and hearing its historic bells, but it’s still an extremely interesting use of AR technology that could prove more interesting than the actual structure itself.

And once you’re done snapping some killer AR selfies, be sure to hit up either locations of Bonnie Gull for some fish and chips.

Image Credit: Snap Inc. /

About the Scout

Bobby Carlton

Hello, my name is Bobby Carlton. When I'm not exploring the world of immersive technology, I'm writing rock songs about lost love. I'd also like to mention that I can do 25 push-ups in a row.

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