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The future of Facebook is augmented reality

The average consumer spends 50 minutes each day on Facebook and its image-sharing platform Instagram, and who even knows how much longer on Messenger and WhatsApp. One way or another Facebook’s grasp on our time is only going to get stronger, according to Mark Zuckerberg’s master plan as laid out at this year’s F8 developer summit.

And it all hinges on augmented reality.

The way Zuckerberg sees it, AR is set to become the default lens through which we interact with the world and each other. Facebook has been working on its own set of AR tools based on smartphone camera capability called Camera Effects, which it will begin sharing with developers next week.

Effects presently consist of rudimentary facial filters similar to those we’re used to seeing on Snapchat. Frame Studio allows users to create their own location filters, which will encourage content sharing on Facebook, but the potential here is in the long haul. Sharing this technology with developers means that at some point soon, the next Pokemon Go-style AR phenomenon could take place on Facebook.

“Even if we were a little slow to add cameras to our apps, I’m confident that we’re going to be the ones to push this augmented reality platform forward,” says Zuckerberg.

While the smartphone camera is the tool of the moment for AR, developers at Facebook and Oculus believe that augmented reality spectacles are the future. In fact, they believe that once smart eyewear technology becomes sophisticated enough, glasses will replace the smartphone entirely as the single device we use to communicate.

Also introduced at F8 was Facebook Spaces, a social VR experience which allows Oculus Rift users to “hang out” with their friends in a 3D virtual room, and the Surround 360 camera, which cements Facebook’s view that 360 and 3D video are the future of content on their site.

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