March 13, 2018
Facebook has confirmed that it is currently testing an augmented reality camera that goes beyond its earlier functions (and limitations) of selfie masks and inserting 3D objects into locations. Beta users can now test the use of real-world location markers that set off augmented reality experiences right where they stand. The closed beta includes promotions tied to the films “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Ready Player One,” and near future plans include adding tracker-based AR to its AR Studio tool that will be open to all developers.
Facebook launched its augmented reality Camera Effects platform for developers almost one year ago at F8, its annual developer conference. But according to TechCrunch, not much progress in the way of AR has been made since. If Facebook does indeed decide to open this particular AR tool to all (as soon as next month), “outside developers could start creating experiences tethered to physical spaces,” reports TechCrunch.
With the new functionality, pointing Facebook Camera at a “Ready Player One” poster offers a window into the film’s VR world. Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” premiered at SXSW this week and opens in theaters March 29.
Facebook’s digital influence overflows into the real world in a variety of ways, often affecting how brick and mortar business is done. In the case of location-specific AR, companies could begin using these markers to set up promotional content for visitors, promoting physical presence at physical locations in order to engage in a virtual experience.
“In the future, we believe AR will be in the world all around us. Rather than the ephemeral ‘capture and share’ sessions we see today, AR will sit in a hidden data layer that you access through your devices – phones today, glasses tomorrow,” said Facebook Camera product manager Matthew Simari.
He goes on to say that Facebook’s current beta test is the company’s first installation of that future, calling the phone a “magnifying glass that is allowing you to peer past your reality into a hidden experience locked … to a place or object in the world around you.”