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Former Snap Researchers Create the Next-Gen Bitmoji with Easel

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 29, 2024
Former Snap Researchers Create the Next-Gen Bitmoji with Easel

Former Snap Researchers Create the Next-Gen Bitmoji with Easel

Easel, a startup founded by former Snap researchers, is introducing a novel way for users to create personalized Bitmoji-style stickers using generative AI.

The company, co-founded by Rajan Vaish and Sven Kratz, integrates directly into the iOS Messages app, allowing users to seamlessly generate and share AI-created images that can reflect personal activities and expressions. This approach leverages the technology of Stable Diffusion to craft stickers from personal images, offering a deeper customization than traditional Bitmojis.

The startup recently secured $2.65 million in funding from venture capital firms such as Unusual Ventures, f7 Ventures, and Corazon Capital, along with several angel investors, including professors from Stanford University.

From Snap’s Layoffs to Innovative Start-Up

Rajan Vaish, Easel’s CEO, explained that the initiative to develop Easel began after he and Kratz were part of a team disbanded by Snap in 2022 due to layoffs. Both individuals brought significant experience from their time at Snap, where innovative projects, especially in augmented reality, were a focus.

This background has played a crucial role in shaping Easel’s development, which promises a more engaging experience by allowing users to generate images that include their own faces, a feature designed to make digital interactions more personal and engaging.

Unlike conventional avatar services that offer limited scenarios, Easel’s use of generative AI enables the creation of stickers depicting virtually any scenario that users can describe. For example, users can create a sticker showing them drinking coffee, chilling at the beach, or riding a bicycle. Furthermore, Easel emphasizes a multiplayer experience, allowing friends to interact with and modify each other’s stickers within the same conversation thread.

This integration into everyday communication tools like the iOS Messages app is strategic. It eliminates the need for users to switch platforms or rebuild social networks.

Users can send Easel stickers as easily as any image through iMessage, and recipients can interact with these stickers directly within the chat by installing Easel, which then allows them to create and share their own or remix existing stickers.

Additionally, Easel encourages community interaction through its public feed, where users can share their stickers. This aspect of the app not only fosters a sense of community but also introduces a creative dynamic where users can see seasonal or thematic stickers, such as those for specific holidays, and personalize them.

Enhancing Privacy and Comfort in Digital Interactions

Easel also addresses privacy and personal comfort by allowing those who are less inclined to share real photographs to still participate in visual sharing and social interactions. Vaish highlighted this as one of the key use cases, particularly appealing to users who prefer not to take selfies.

Moreover, Easel provides a solution for capturing and sharing moments without the immediacy of taking out a phone, thus enabling users to stay engaged in their real-world activities while still sharing those experiences.

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Featured Image courtesy of Benjamin Glasser

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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