April 18, 2017 - Mark Zuckerberg's Augmented Reality Technology Announcement
Facebook's Zuckerberg Makes Big Augmented Reality Announcement at Developers Conference By The Street
Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage on Tuesday at F8, its annual developer conference in San Jose, to make a big announcement: Facebook is making the camera in its mobile apps the first artificial reality (AR) platform.
In other words, the camera will be an open platform that lets everyone help build AR technology. This explains why Facebook has been aggressively copying Snapchat's (SNAP) Stories feature on its Messenger and Facebook apps, the Instagram app, as well as WhatsApp. "This explains why we rolled cameras out on all the apps," Zuckerberg said. "That was Act I. This is Act II."
Now when a user opens their camera on one of Facebook's apps, they will see effects, such as face masks, that their friends are using, as well as effects related to their geographical location. Users can create their own effects or use effects from creators all over the world. The closed beta version of this platform is launching today, according to Zuckerberg.
Facebook shares were down 0.2% to $141.12 on Tuesday afternoon but are up almost 23% year to date.
On Tuesday, Zuckerberg demonstrated a few examples of what people will be able to do with AR via a camera on its mobile apps. They can use 3-D effects to fill a room with Skittles or move a light source from the front of the room to the back of a room. They can tap on a cup of coffee in a picture (the app will recognize objects) and adding steam to it, tap on a plant and add flowers to it or tap on a bottle of wine and add an information card to it that tells the receiver about its rating.
In terms of outside developers, Nike (NKE) has joined with Facebook to create an effect that tells people how far you ran and puts a sweatband over your forehead. This is a significant effect because typically people might think a run is too mundane to share with people even though they're proud of the accomplishment, Zuckerberg said. But if users can spice up their workout announcement with humor or interesting effects, then they're more likely to share it.
Another effect that will roll out later this year involve AR games. In the example shown during the keynote, a father points his camera at a coffee table in a waiting room and animated objects appear around the room on the screen. His kids then slap the air where they believe the objects to be and if they hit one, it disappears.
The last use for the platform that Zuckerberg shared at the conference is the ability to create art that can only be seen through the cameras. In the example, artist Heather Day created a moving waterfall of paint on the side of a blank physical wall, naming the digital artwork "FB Air Collection." Soon, users will be able to discover new art like this all around their city.
Zuckerberg ended his keynote address by noting that all of these effects will take a while to roll out, rather than showing up dramatically overnight. In addition, while Facebook took a while to add camera features to all of its apps, the company is confident that it will be the leader to push this AR platform forward, he claimed.
While the ultimate goal for AR is to be able to put tools such as a TV screen or a chess board into glasses and contacts, this is just another step along that path, he noted. The effects that people will start using on these cameras are primitive versions of what will come, he said.
"We're building tools to give everyone the power to share what they want," he said at the end of his keynote.
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