8th Wall is launching Face Effects, a new cloud tool that enables developers to create effects that wrap around someone’s face using augmented reality technology. 8th Wall made the announcement at the Augmented World Expo 2020, a digital event that highlights AR technology (such as glasses that overlay animations on the real world).
The face-filter developer tools are based on WebAR, which enables AR experiences to be accessed via a web browser instead of an app. 8th Wall designed Face Effects to give developers and brands control to create filters that are interactive, in real time, and that live on their own websites.
Developers can launch a new category of face filters we have not yet seen before, including those that leverage real-time applications programming interfaces (APIs), a wide variety of asset types including video textures, multiplayer support, and more. Tom Emrich, vice president of product at 8th Wall, and Rigel Benton, interaction designer, showed me a demo during an interview.
“We’re on a mission to make augmented reality accessible to everyone,” Emrich said. “And we’ve done that by creating developer tools that allow for our developers to create AR and VR experiences that harness the full power of the open web. We are now adding face effects to the mix. And so with face effects, our developers are going to be able to anchor 3D objects to face attachment points. So you can add virtual hats, virtual jewelry, or glasses to your face.”
One of the cool things I saw is the capability to tap my webcam to overlay augmented reality sunglasses on my face. It wrapped the glasses around my face in a realistic way — something that is pretty hard to do. You can see a demo here that is viewable via a webcam.
Beyond WebAR, 8th Wall Face Effects can also be used across all devices (iOS/Android and desktops using a webcam) and benefit from no app required. You just click a link to experience it. Developers can choose the asset types, file sizes, and content to maximize the value for their audience.
In this way, Face Effects created with 8th Wall could use the live activity of sports data feeds to constantly change the design of a fan’s face paint (yep, sounds scary to me, too). Fans could livestream a video as a texture on their faces, connect multiple users together to create a shared shopping experience, and integrate with developers’ preferred analytics, customer relationship management systems, and payment systems in virtual try-on products.
Developers can simply scan a QR code to open up a cloud editor that adds a 3D object to your face. The edges of virtual sunglasses can stop at the edge of your face because an occluder prevents it from going right through your face. You can put virtual tattoos on your face to see what they look like before you make them permanent.
“You can jump into a Tilt Brush app and create some art that you could import easily,” Emrich said. “We always provide templates that can really kickstart development.”
Benton showed a chain of mini-skulls hanging from his pirate’s hat. The virtual skulls bounced off his real head, as the physics system detected the outline of his head and prevented the skulls from going right through it. With 8th Wall Face Effects, developers can anchor 3D objects to face attachment points, render face mesh with textures and shaders, and design custom effects. Similar to 8th Wall’s existing World Effects and Image Target AR, Face Effects supports development with popular web frameworks such as A-Frame and Three.js.
New developers can sign up for a 14-day free trial of the 8th Wall platform. Existing developers can simply log in and get started using the Face Effects project templates. Founded in 2016, the Palo Alto, California-based 8th Wall has about 20 employees.