Facebook today announced a platform for developers to build new experiences into its in-app cameras, saying it would bring augmented reality into the mainstream and position Facebook to reap the majority of the benefits. Speaking on stage at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that AR would be the next major platform for computing. A closed beta that opens today will let developers begin experimenting with photo and video filters, games, art projects, and more.
In a demonstration, Zuckerberg showed a variety of dazzling camera effects. Swiping to the stories camera that Facebook introduced last month, users will soon find thousands of augmented reality effects, he said. These go beyond the art frames and face filters of today to include three-dimensional text and images. In one demo, giant puffy words reading “It’s feeding time” rose out of a breakfast table, where a series of sharks swam around a cereal bowl.
In another demo, Facebook’s camera turned a two-dimensional photo into a 3D A mundane picture of an office with chairs transformed in several ways: appearing to fill up with water, or bouncy balls, and even Skittles. “Because the future is delicious,” Zuckerberg said. (Hello advertisers!) The camera platform will launch with just six platforms, Zuckerberg told Recode.
Facebook’s camera will use object recognition to suggest effects based on the object. Tap on a coffee cup, for example, and you’ll be able to add steam. Or tap a wine bottle and add a card showing the vintage, and presumably, a link to buy it yourself. “Some of these effects are going to be fun,” Zuckerberg said. “Others are going to be useful.”
The addition of face filters and 3D effects into camera apps was pioneered by Snapchat, which Facebook has spent the past year disassembling and integrating into its suite of apps. Just today, Snapchat introduced world lenses, which project similar 3D images into the world around you.
Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook had been somewhat late to the AR party. But he said the company’s object recognition and machine learning technology would give it an advantage over its rivals. “Even though we were a little slow to add cameras to all our apps, I’m confident that now we’re going to push this augmented reality camera forward,” he said.