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It is common knowledge that as technology evolves, individuals are becoming more informed and driven to create content aligned to their passions. Think about the content you are seeing in your social feeds – your colleague’s oddball memes, Aunt Sue with puppy’s ears and your old school mate Trevor Lam and his latest “work of art” – everyone around us is getting more and more able to express their creativity and publish it too. Facebook Augmented Reality (AR) is going to allow people to express themselves a whole lot more.
Give everyone the power to share anything with anyone.
– Mark Zuckerberg
What is F8 – and why should you care?
The Facebook Developers conference (F8) was first hosted in 2007 – where the team at FB presented the social graph – or a rendition of the concept of a social network. Subsequent editions of F8 hosted similarly theoretical principles behind the evolution of the behemoth that FB is today. Essentially, this is the conference where they announce their next plans, and given how integrated FB is in our lives today – you might want to be aware of what’s ahead.
F8 2017: Facebook Augmented Reality
Earlier this week, at F8 2017, Mark Zuckerberg (Zuck!) shared an update on the next phase of FB’s 10-year product plan, originally shared in at F8 2016. Commencing with some warm up jokes about the release of Fast and the Furious 8 (the “other” F8 ) this week, Zuck proceeded to give us a snapshot of how FB plans to integrate AR into camera functions in their apps.
Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote from Day 1 of F8
FB, AR & Cameras – how do they come together?
In recent times, the FB family of apps (FB, Messenger, Instagram & Whatsapp) have seen the integration of camera icons across the board – enabling functions such as video conferencing. While these changes have gone unnoticed by some, it is estimated that the FB messenger app has 1.2 billion monthly users.
FB Messenger with camera Icon (Source: Forbes)
And how does AR fit into this equation?
Zuck went on to share a common understanding that AR is essentially used for three key purposes;
- The overlay of data onto the physical reality around us – such as messages or information
- The ability to add digital objects into our surroundings – like a virtual television or gaming avatars
- Enhancements to physical objects around us – like buildings or human faces.
Facebook Augmented Reality will work by aggregating these tools – the cameras within FB apps will allow users to create AR “experiences” – and they will seem quite familiar once you see them. AR is not rare – we’ve all seen it in one form or the other – quite possibly most recently in the form of Pokemon Go.
Now, we all know that Pokemon Go was a huge driver in bringing AR to the mainstream – even if it was little more than a temporary fad for most. You’ve also undoubtedly heard us go on about how the popularity of the game was influential in the voluminous cash injection industry players received in 2016. But this could very well be, to quote Led Zeppelin, when the levee’s gonna break.
Where might you have seen AR in action?
Some use cases we’ve found interesting
So how does it all work exactly? (A splash of technical jargon)
This vision comes to life with the incorporation of some technological building blocks;
- Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) – a technique borrowed from Artificial intelligence – enabling users to integrate digital elements into the reality in front of them
- 3D effects – capturing and interacting with scenes that you can explore and effects that you can adjust
- Object recognition – technology that can identify items around you, that can then be targets for the overlay of digital content
What about Virtual Reality?
AR and Virtual Reality align quite well, and in that vein, FB is launching a platform called Facebook spaces – where you can interact with people in a virtual environment through the Oculus Rift.
Facebook spaces (from F8 2017)
Meanwhile, we’ve been doing our own experiments with the Rift too!
Early days in terms of adoption – and the plan for an open platform
Zuck reiterated a key message around AR: It is yet in a rudimentary phase of development – and most of the use cases around us are still evolving too. Don’t expect the world to change overnight.
That being said, in offering an open platform and leveraging the huge universe that lives on FB – users will be able to create AR experiences on their own, and share them online. In doing so, new users will have access to parallel creations by fellow users from around the internet.
This spike in available content will invariably help everyone around us find AR experiences that fit their fancy – especially if this punt from FB is a good one – and at Appearition, we certainly believe Facebook Augmented Reality is going to be something special for all of us.