Facebook thinks that the future involves extending the physical world online. That’s what CEO Mark Zuckerberg said today at F8, its developers conference being held in San Jose, California. He said that the tech giant is launching its first augmented reality platform, which will add a wide variety of effects through a camera tool in the Facebook app.
There are three important use cases, Zuckerberg said: the ability to display information such as directions or notifications; the ability to add digital objects to an existing space; and the ability to enhance existing objects. The idea, then, is to “make the camera the first mainstream AR platform,” he said. Initially, the tool will utilize standard effects, things like facemasks, or art frames. But it will also be possible to create custom effects, and there will soon be thousands available from creators all over the world. So, it could be possible to take a video of any scene and enhance it with all kinds of augmented effects, such as steam coming out of a coffee cup, or adding water to a room, or automatically turning down the lighting. Some of the effects will be fun, Zuck said, while others will be practical, like adding an information card to a wine bottle. The three key elements to making this work are precise location, 3D effects, and object recognition. The closed beta starts today, and Zuck says it’ll start slow, so be patient with the development of the platform.