Utah man plays big role in zany new Snapchat update

Posted at 7:42 PM, Sep 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 10:14:09-04

LEHI, Utah - You could say Jayson Ahlstrom is part techie, part entrepreneur. When his good friend came up to him with the idea behind the app, Looksery, he was immediately on board.

"One day he showed up with a concept around this photo-altering, face mapping technology, and I knew he was on to something," he said.

Looksery allows users to change their look as they video chat. He became a company adviser as it got up and running.

Two years and millions of downloads later, messaging app giant Snapchat picked it up.

Snapchat just rolled out the update, featuring the tools from Looksery. Snapchatters can have a little fun with their selfie videos.

Face mapping technology allows them to apply filters to look like a monster, demon, or ghost. Or on the flip-side, a glamour girl, love-struck, or have googly eyes.

The filters change out daily.

"It`s been fun to watch it being used by literally hundreds of millions of people,” Ahlstrom said. “I`ve seen everyone from Kim Kardashian using the new filters all the way to cats on the internet."

Yep, people are even using this for their cats.

The sale of Looksery isn't the only success Ahlstrom is enjoying.

"Pretty simple to use," he said, sitting in his Lehi office, showing off an app called Jott he unrolled with co-founder Jared Allgood to the public in April.

"It's a phone application that is meant to totally replace your normal texting application," he said.

It’s already exploding into the scene.

"We’re constantly ranking in the top social networking apps," Ahlstrom said.

One particular feature is gaining nationwide attention.

"Forbes picked it up, and Inc picked it up, and CNN picked it up online and live TV," said Jayson’s brother Paul Ahlstrom. He helped fund Jott as an angel investor.

The app allows you to send messages while being completely offline- even with your phone on airplane mode.

It’s called AirChat. You talk with people who are in fairly close proximity to you, from what the Ahlstrom’s describe as a peer-to-peer mesh network.

Simply turn on your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and you can text without actually accessing the internet or cell service.

They said Jott is a hit with teenagers who many only have iPods, or no access to Wi-Fi at school.

Paul said there’s no other app like it in the U.S. market. Plus, it’s making waves in the Utah tech scene. He said the consumer sector isn’t an area Utah excels in.

"What's super unique about Jayson's company Jott,” Paul said, “It will be the first real social network out of Utah."

Both Ahlstroms have big hopes for Jott, just like Jayson did for Looksery when his friend threw out the idea just a couple years ago.

“I look at it as the evolution of texting,” Jayson said. "You can influence people's lives for the better."