Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Facebook CEO sees augmented reality's future in the camera

Theresa Hayes | 19 April, 2017, 01:08

Rather than being able to see a little Pikachu down the street from your house, Facebook is going to let developers add nearly anything to the real world.

It's not so much what you say, but what you snap - and how you trick it out. "You want to watch TV?" he gestured to the flat screen up on the wall. It looked similar to an App Store, but instead of apps, there were thousands of different camera filters. We will wander not one, but two worlds - the physical and the digital - wearing glasses or contact lenses that can summon information about the street we are walking on or the restaurant we are eating in or let us manipulate digital objects that feel real but aren't really there. The belief played a big role in his $2-billion purchase in 2014 of Irvine virtual reality technology start-up Oculus VR.

The problem, naturally, is that a huge chunk of the world's economy hinges on the production of phones, and TVs, and tablets, and all of those other things that Facebook thinks could be replaced with this technology. And at the conference we might hear more about further steps the company is taking to monitor the reliability of news on the social network. The company launched a 360-degree camera at F8 previous year, and now recent rumors from Variety suggest Facebook could also launch its own VR headset - or at least the specifications for a VR headset that other companies could go on to use.

"The tools today are primitive", Zuckerberg told Recode, referring to face filters and games like Pokémon. To push AR forward, there needs to be an open platform, Zuckerberg said. It will allow them to create and design frames that can be used as part of a Facebook profile picture or, more importantly, in the new Facebook camera app. Users can build an avatar and use Spaces to "spend time" with up to three other avatars.

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There are still a lot of questions surrounding Facebook's AR efforts. Now, he's acknowledging he not only overestimated virtual reality's short-term potential, but also underestimated the smartphone's ability to serve as a virtual veneer in the interim. It's clearer than ever that VR and particularly AR are what Zuckerberg views as the best way to do that.

Facebook has a session scheduled that's called "Building for the Camera Effects Platform", which suggests it will likely introduce new camera features. "And I would imagine that the same is going to be true about AR as well".

So it's no surprise that people are extremely excited about Zuckerberg's keynote speech at this year's Facebook F8 developer conference. "Is it going to be one product line?"

How exactly does adding digital objects to our physical environments build community? Zuckerberg took a moment to mention the incident.

This, of course, is mostly a vision for now, or at least Facebook and Zuckerberg aren't claiming to have AR figured out.

"Virtual reality and augmented reality go hand in hand", Zuckerberg said.