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F8 2017: Facebook Launches Augmented Reality Camera Platform

“We’re making the camera the first augmented reality platform.”

Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference kicked off today with Mark Zuckerberg taking the stage and announcing the company’s latest efforts in augmented reality. “Augmented reality is going to help us mix the digital and physical together and that’s why it’s such an important trend,” said Zuckerberg.

Starting in closed beta today, the computer vision initiative shown on stage is part of Facebook’s latest effort to create a generation of new apps that just may help bring augmented reality into the mainstream. An evolution from just placing filters on top of photos in your phone, Facebook’s Camera Effects platform combines precise location, 3D effects, and object recognition that will let artists and developers create new ways to mixed the digital and physical worlds together.

One of Zuckerberg’s favorite new augmented reality experiences was built by Nike. The Facebook CEO showed off the Nike+ Run Club augmented reality app that overlaid information around you when taking a selfie to share with friends. The app also included more comical effects like putting a sweaty and drenching cartoon headband on you when you snap the photo.

In another demo on stage, fans of the multi-player game Mass Effect: Andromeda could don a Mass Effect-themed helmet mask effect for use with the front camera, then flip the camera to view stats from your latest mission using data from the game. In a way just like the Nike app, data or in this case a leader board, are brought into a 3D space to make your content that much more engaging and sharable. A quick pan of your phone showed off game visuals that augmented the world around you, bringing the scene from the game to life.

Camera Effects were also shown off in a unique and useful way when it came to sports as well. Fans cheering on soccer team Manchester United can capture video with real-time data from the match. When ManU scores, it shows up in Facebook as a big flashing “GOALLLL” as you hear the roar of the crowd and confetti flies.

Facebook is also letting developers apply for access to the closed beta of the platform’s AR Studio. AR Studio includes tools for building masks, animations and advanced scripted effects. With it, you can design effects that respond to motion, gestures, facial expressions and more. Many effects can be built without scripting or writing a single line of code. However, you can add more complex interactivity and animation with scripts, including bringing textures or data from outside sources into the scene, making art react to facial movements or taps, and connecting outside mobile apps directly to the camera for sharing.

This story is still developing.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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