Facebook’s push for augmented and virtual reality marks everyday digital’s entry into a new dimension
Though the Pokemon Go craze has waned since last year, the frenzy its offering of augmented reality (AR) sparked should still be fresh in the minds of app-creators and technology companies. While Snapchat was one of the first tech biggies to hitch its ride to AR and offer new features on its platform, it is now Facebook’s turn. The Menlo Park, California-based company seems keen on reigniting users’ interest with AR offerings. At its F8 conference on Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social network, announced that the company will be opening the Facebook platform for other companies to bring AR experience to users. Basically, this would allow users to add photo effects to their surroundings. For instance, one can change the room setting to virtually fill it with water or add dinosaurs to videos. But Facebook expects it to go beyond just plain fun, allowing people to leave virtual notes for FB Friends at places they visit.
The company, though, is looking much beyond AR. It had, in March 2014, acquired the virtual reality (VR) device company, Oculus. Now, it has announced a VR integration for its website, where people can spend time with their friends using VR devices. Called Facebook Spaces, the app would allow users to create a customisable virtual avatar from photos and let them draw virtual markers and watch 360o videos. Although AR was predicated on growth of Google Glass-like devices, companies are using what is available—even phone cameras—create the experience for users. Google Glass and other such gadgets/platforms may yet become common, but for now, most users seem to think smartphones will do. Already being used extensively in biomedical and commercial applications, AR and VR applications are set to multiply in the next few years. With more companies entering the field with basic cameras, the AR industry may be in for a revolution sooner than expected. More important, that changes the way users interact with their phones. Yet again.