Last year at F8, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is on a mission to make the camera the first augmented reality platform, starting with AR Spaces and AR Studio. Progress toward that goal continued today with an update to AR Studio and the introduction of AR for Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
AR on Messenger will be used to take a closer look at new Nike shoes, shop for Kia cars, check out the features of the latest Asus smartphone, and try out Sephora’s eyeshadow or lipstick.
Augmented reality in Messenger also makes possible AR camera effects like the kind made popular on Snapchat.
When a user clicks an open reply in a Messenger bot, it can bring the user to prepopulated filters from a brand. Photos and videos made with camera effects like Sephora’s makeup AR, for example, can be shared with friends in Messenger conversations or added to a Facebook story.
The news was announced today at F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference, taking place May 1 and 2 at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.
Also announced today: Oculus Go, a $200 wireless VR headset first announced at the Connect event last October, hit store shelves today, a “Clear history” tool was introduced, and Facebook announced it’s getting into the dating game.
A more simplified version of Messenger along the lines of what VP David Marcus listed as a goal for 2018, was also showcased at F8. Plans for the release of a simplified Messenger have not yet been shared.
An update to AR Studio to allow things like target tracking — the ability to place augmented reality over real-world markers such as a Ready Player One movie poster — also launched today.
AR on Messenger can bring a person directly from an ad to an AR experience. Bots can be shared via Click-to-Messenger ads or Facebook home page advertisements, which expanded last July and are now available worldwide, a Facebook spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.
Though a bot can share a link to an AR Studio experience via Messenger, it can also do things like ask a user if they want to take a test drive or speak with a human. Initial tests of home page ads last year found that the sale of high-price items was more likely to occur when a human was looped into a conversation instead of only speaking an automated bot, Messenger head of product Stan Chudnovsky told VentureBeat in an interview.
Chat with a human agent “continues to be more effective for large-price items … so I still expect conversation to go to a particular representative, like no one is going to buy Kia from there,” Chudnovsky told VentureBeat in an interview. “We haven’t tested any of that in the world because we’re just launching, but all of them will have to eventually in order to be very successful have handover protocol to a human.”
AR capabilities come to Messenger at a time when many other tech giants move forward with their own attempts to put AR in more smartphones.
From the iPhone X to LG’s V30S ThinQ and Samsung’s S9 this spring, cameras have been placed at the center of headliner features by app and smartphone makers, and in February, Google made its ARCore generally available.