Snapchat has created an augmented reality version of the famed Big Ben tower clock building that enables Westminster residents and visitors to see the tower in its intended splendor, free of the current restoration coverings that hide it from full view.

Last year, renovations began on the Great Clock in the Elizabeth tower, better known as Big Ben. The famous tower remains shrouded in scaffolding and, outside of exceptions like New Year’s Eve, its trademark bell will stay muted until 2020.

However, a World Lens from Snapchat virtually peels back the scaffolding to reveal the tower as it should appear after renovations are complete, with an accurately-scaled model viewable from various angles and distances. The AR experience encases the tower in a virtual snowglobe with holiday greetings superimposed across its facade.

In addition, the experience recreates the clock’s famous chimes and bongs. And when using the front-facing camera, Snapchat’s well known facial recognition technology outfits users within the camera’s view with virtual Union Jack top hats.

The Lens will only appear in the Lens carousel for users within 300 meters (or about 980 feet) of the landmark, therefore users must also accept location permissions. Snap also recommends an iPhone 6 and above or a mid-range Android device to make the Lens work.

Snapchat has toyed with location-based AR experiences with Lenses geofenced to amusement parks and its Easter Egg Hunt, but the Big Ben Lens is the first to apply a large-scale experience on a specific building location. This opens up a wide world of on-site AR opportunities, such as those envisioned in Keiichi Matsuda’s Hyper Reality short film, and other science fiction films.

Source: Tommy Palladino, NEXT REALITY