With Easel, ex-Snap researchers are revolutionizing the next-generation Bitmoji thanks to AI.

Easel, ex-Snap researchers use Bitmoji for building the next-generation AI


Easel, a new startup founded by two former Snap employees, is positioned at the intersection of generative AI and social trends. The company is developing an app that enables users to create images of themselves and their friends engaging in exciting activities directly from iMessage conversations.


The co-founders’ background at Snap is significant, as Snap has been recognized as one of the most innovative social companies, particularly in pioneering augmented reality (AR) experiences through lenses. Snap’s lenses feature has had a profound cultural impact, introducing many users to AR technology long before it became mainstream.


Snap’s acquisition of Bitmoji in 2016 further emphasized its commitment to innovative social experiences, enabling users to create virtual avatars for communication. This move predated the widespread adoption of virtual avatars, which have since become popular across various platforms, including Apple’s Memoji and Meta’s avatars.


Rajan Vaish, Easel’s CEO and co-founder, highlighted his experience at Snap, where he worked on futuristic projects in the research team led by Bobby Murphy. Co-founder Sven Kratz, a former senior research engineer at Snap, shares a similar background.


After Snap dissolved their team in 2022 due to layoffs, Vaish and Kratz seized the opportunity to continue their innovative work outside of Snap, leading to the creation of Easel. Their aim is to continue pushing boundaries and exploring new avenues in the realm of generative AI and social interaction.


AI as a personal communication vector

Easel leverages generative AI to empower users to create personalized Bitmoji-style stickers depicting various activities and scenarios, from drinking coffee to relaxing at the beach or riding a bicycle. Users begin by capturing a brief video of their face, allowing Easel to create a personalized AI model for generating stickers. The use of Stable Diffusion’s technology adds a level of realism and engagement, as users can see themselves depicted in the generated images.


The process involves training the AI model on the user’s facial features and characteristics to create an accurate representation. Once the model is created, users can seamlessly integrate Easel into their conversations within the iOS Messages app. This integration eliminates the need for users to switch to a separate platform or create a new social network, making it convenient to share personalized stickers with friends.


Sending an Easel sticker via iMessage is as simple as sending a regular image. Recipients can tap on the sticker to open Easel within the conversation, where they can view and interact with the sticker. The multiplayer aspect allows friends to install Easel and remix each other’s stickers, fostering collaboration and enhancing the virality of the app, similar to the features offered by Bitmoji. Overall, Easel aims to provide users with a fun and engaging way to express themselves through personalized stickers in their conversations.


With Easel, ex-Snap researchers are revolutionizing the next-generation Bitmoji thanks to AI.

Image Credits: Easel


Easel offers users a level of customization and personalization beyond what’s possible with Bitmoji. Instead of settling for generic scenarios, users can design stickers with personalized background scenes, locations, and scenarios, allowing them to depict specific moments and experiences more accurately. Whether it’s cocktails with friends in Paris or any other unique scenario, Easel’s generative AI enables users to create stickers that truly reflect their experiences and interests.


Additionally, Easel users can share their stickers to the app’s public feed, inspiring others and creating a sense of seasonality within the app. This feature allows users to discover and remix stickers created by others, adding a laid-back and communal aspect to the app’s usage.


With $2.65 million in funding from investors like Unusual Ventures, f7 Ventures, Corazon Capital, and angel investors from Stanford University, Easel is poised to make an impact in the world of personalized stickers and visual communication.


Co-founder and CEO Rajan Vaish highlighted two unique use cases for Easel. Firstly, Easel caters to individuals who may not be comfortable sharing their faces directly, providing them with an alternative way to share visual updates about their activities. Secondly, Easel enables users to stay in the moment by offering a form of visual communication that doesn’t require them to actively capture photos or videos in real-time. This aspect of Easel allows users to engage in visual communication even after the moment has passed, enhancing their ability to share experiences with others.



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