April 19, 2017

Facebook Creates an Augmented Reality Future

f8 Facebook

The big news coming out of the annual Facebook F8 developers conference was Mark Zuckerberg’s big bet on augmented reality. Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is launching a new Camera Effects platform that will make it possible for users of its in-app camera to create augmented reality experiences. As Facebook announced, “Now you can create effects for the Facebook camera, from the simplest frame to the most stunning augmented reality experiences.” And those experiences include location-based ones. Welcome to an augmented reality future.

At the F8 conference, Zuckerberg identified a number of uses of Camera Effects that are location-based. According to Josh Constine of TechCruch, “Zuckerberg imagines AR experiences breaking down into three major categories: augmenting objects in the physical world with additional information like putting directions atop the street or a restaurant’s reviews on their storefront, layering new virtual objects onto reality like a chess board or working television and enhancing objects that are already there with extra effects, like giving you a glitter beard or adding a castle turret to your apartment building.”

For instance, as Zuckerberg pointed out, restaurant diners could use their Facebook cameras to leave virtual messages for each other on the walls and tables, such as comments on their favorite dishes. Or diners could turn their tables into a blank canvass to create augmented reality doodles.

Facebook will launch the platform in beta. To accelerate the launch, Facebook is opening up Camera Effects to developers to “build engaging, interactive and personalized camera experiences with code-driven animations, touch interaction, and in-scene data from mobile apps or web services.” Clearly, Facebook has learned from Apple: if you want a platform to succeed, be open.

My take: the pundits say that Facebook is learning from and copying Snapchat by injecting augmented reality into its app, which is partly true. However, I think Facebook is also borrowing a page from Niantic, responsible for the Pokémon GO craze that showcased the power of augmented reality for location-based experiences. Hey it’s fun to catch a Pokémon in an appropriate or sometimes unusual location and capture that moment. Zuckerberg intends for Camera Effects to create more engagement with Facebook users by giving them another reason to stay on Facebook through their mobile devices. He’s betting on AR to create that engagement.

Brands should watch very closely what Facebook is doing and be prepared to weave AR into their location-based experiences just as smart businesses did when Pokémon GO took flight. Businesses already use video projection technology to emulate an AR experience, an example being the Frida Kahlo Restaurante in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which uses a process known as gastro mapping to turn tables and walls into immersive visuals that represent the work and life of the Frida Kahlo.

Consider Facebook F8 2017 to be a sign of things to come: customers who adopt AR won’t be distracted texting and talking on their mobile devices when they visit your brick-and-mortar location. They’ll use mobile to bring experiences to your brick-and-mortar location. Be ready to respond with your own. Contact SIM Partners to understand how to connect experiences, content, and data effectively at the local level.

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