Facebook stakes claim to ‘first augmented reality platform’ with new camera tools

Facebook announced a pledge to make the modern smart device camera what it claims is the first ubiquitous augmented reality (AR) platform during its F8 conference in San Jose, California. CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed how the new camera functions will work in Facebook’s various apps on the conference stage.

Without getting too into the technical jargon, Zuckerberg focused on the possibilities that such technology would bring about – a smart move. However, the Facebook chief did point out the three key ingredients in perfecting its new AR camera functions: precise location, augmented effects and object recognition.

“There’s pretty involved AR work to make this all work,” Zuckerberg said on stage. “These are the technological foundations for advanced AR.” 

Focusing on those core tenets, Zuckerberg went on to describe exactly what AR would entail within Facebook’s suite of camera apps. Generally, AR on Facebook will allow you to add three dimensional elements and other special effects to your images and video shared across the social network.

Your (curated) reality, now augmented

These 3D elements could be anything from words digitally placed on top of a table next to a birthday cake to miniature sharks swimming around said cake at a realistic, believable and consistent depth and sense of presence. You can even change the lighting within the scene using the techniques developed by Facebook.

Teasing the possibilities for developers that will likely want to make some cash from the AR endeavor, Zuckerberg went on to show how information cards will work within Facebook’s AR platform, showing information relevant to a given object or landmark. Want to know what a given store has on sale before even entering? It would be possible with this tech.

Zuckerberg expanded upon this possibility with the idea of Facebook users leaving digital notes tagged to physical places to share with their friends and family, seen through any one of Facebook’s camera apps. This could go so far as recommending a new spot for a friend down your favorite street or leaving a note on the fridge for your roommate.

Further still, the Facebook chief teased that more interactive functions, like AR gaming and AR art installations, would be coming to the camera platform later this year.

Facebook was quick to point out that this kind of technology is already in your pocket, with Facebook recently launching a stickers tool that let users share photos and video with “stickers” digitally imposed into the scene.

The foundation of this AR camera platform, which launches today in a closed beta, are two apps: AR Studio and Frame Studio. Designed for artists and developers, the tools allow you to create new augmented reality effects with a series of templates and intuitive functions. Imagine being able to create your own Snapchat filters, and you’re about there.

“Over time, I think this is a technology that’s going to change how we use our phones and, well, all of technology,” Zuckerberg claimed.

To learn more about Facebook’s in-beta AR camera platform, check out Facebook’s detailed article here.

Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.