Big Ben brought back to life by Snapchat augmented reality

Augmented reality, Gadgets, Social Media
Elizabeth Tower
The front-facing camera will also add a virtual hat onto users (Snap/PA)

Big Ben is making an early comeback this Christmas thanks to Snapchat’s latest augmented reality feature, which sees the scaffolding around Elizabeth Tower fall away inside a life-size snow globe!

Snapchat’s latest AR Lens works when users hold their smartphone up to the iconic London landmark, revealing a restored virtual Elizabeth Tower complete with real-time bongs.


Big Ben fell silent on August 21, 2017 as extensive four-year renovation works began on the clock tower. It now only chimes on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

For the next few months, the social app will show the current scaffolding virtually drop away from the structure, adding some festive cheer in the form of a snow globe and a “Happy Holidays!” banner.

Elizabeth Tower
Elizabeth Tower brought back to life by Snapchat using augmented reality (Snap/PA)

The accurate time will be shown on the Great Clock’s face, with chimes every 15 minutes and on the hour. Users need to be within 300 meters of Elizabeth Tower for the feature to work, with location permissions on their device enabled.

“We are thrilled to unwrap Big Ben for our Snapchat community in London,” said Eitan Pilipski, Snap vice president of camera platform.

“This holiday, we wanted to showcase the imaginative power of Snap’s Augmented Reality experiences by deconstructing the scaffolding around Big Ben – at least for a few special moments.”

The feature also works for selfies, adding a virtual Union Jack themed hat on the user’s head.

Chris Price
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