Facebook is serious about augmented reality

At their last developer conference in May, Facebook not only showcased their latest technological developments but what is next for the tech giant. The conference, an annual event is a sneak peek into highly anticipated product updates and also highlights the greater Facebook product roadmap for the next 12 months. One of the key outtakes from the conference is Facebooks’ plans to bring Augmented Reality to the forefront of the platform, driving more engagement and connection with brands and their consumers.

The tech giant has doubled down on its investment in augmented reality. Its current strategy is aimed at making Augmented Reality available to the masses (The likes of Apple are currently investing in Augmented Reality technologies within the development community).

With its dominant market share, Facebook has a clear head start in making it easier for users to experience Augmented Reality within apps that they already have installed, think Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Facebook is now planning to expand beyond just face filters. They have begun providing access to advertisers to experiment using Augmented Realist. Retailers Sephora, Wayfair and Michael Kors have been given exclusive access and are just some of the retailers testing out the new ‘tap it to try’ feature.

 

Michael Kors’ utilisation of the feature has allowed users to try on sunglass models, in different colours, by overlaying the accessory on to a photo of the user’s face.

This is just one simple example of Augmented Reality being rolled out across an application. This example highlights that AR has the potential to be applied to a range of e-commerce goods.

Another AR innovation that was announced at the Facebook Conference, is the ability to make regular photographs look three dimensional.  This feature has the real potential to create opportunities for furniture and design companies, allowing for users to place virtual objects in a space, truly experiencing what the item would look like before purchasing.

Additionally, Facebook has introduced a feature that allows users to connect images, logos and signs with already augmented content. Currently, it remains part of a closed beta test with ‘target tracking’ connecting real-world pictures with augmented content.

In the last week, Facebook has made some new advancements relating to AR again.

Facebook is banking big on the rollout of AR, announcing a long-term partnership with L’Oréal. The partnership is aimed to deliver AR experiences for users via the social network’s camera feature.  The beauty industry is a natural area to explore for AR technologies. It is clear that there is potential for the company, enticing customers with potential products and building hype surrounding a new product launch. AR has true potential for enhancing and increasing customer interactions with a brand.

The collaboration between Facebook and L’Oréal would effectively enable users to try on lipsticks, eyeshadows and a range of other makeup products from L’Oréal’s portfolio of brands.

NYX Professional Makeup will be the first L’Oréal brand to offer AR experiences on Facebook for its customers. It is scheduled to be launched on the platform at the end of August.

In addition to these developments, Facebook is furthering their in-house game development. They are launching their own version of Snapchat’s multiplayer, augmented reality video chat games. The first of these games, ‘Don’t Smile’, allows up to six users to compete in a game based wholly on holding a serious face for the longest time. If the app detects a grin, it utilises AR to contort the face of the loser into a Joker-like smirk. ‘Asteroids Attack’, another Facebook venture in AR gaming, determines which players are better at navigating spaceships using their nose to move the spaceship.

As of now, Facebook has not announced plans to monetise the games with advertising. However, outside developers can earn money utilising ads in between games, incentivising developers to work within the platform to develop it further. It is also a real opportunity for Facebook to increase its audience dwell time on the platform itself, something that Facebook is looking for as, according to Nielsen numbers through November 2017, the social network lost about 4% in aggregated time spent. This reflects a 24% decline in time spent on the platform per person. A more engaged audience is an opportunity for the platform to increase monetisation in the long term.


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