Facebook is Betting Big on Augmented Reality
Today, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage to deliver the keynote address at their biggest annual event, Facebook F8. While the bigger theme of the keynote was about “building communities”, the core technology focus was on augmented reality with your smartphone camera. They announced two new tools for developers which will open the floodgates for smarter “Snapchat-like” filters, frames, and effects to flood the various camera apps of Facebook (includes Messenger, Video, Photo, etc).
In his keynote, Zuckerberg shared the company’s vision for Augmented Reality — that they are building the “first” Augmented Reality platform with the camera apps on Facebook. He went on by sharing three major use cases:
- Displaying Information (Directions, Notifications, Messages)
- Adding Digital Objects
- Enhancing Existing Physical Objects
In essence, it really is a smarter version of Snapchat at a bigger scale (bigger base of Facebook globally and the social graph can be utilized). The new addition is 3D effects which they lovingly call SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) which allows for objects to appear based on the depth of the physical environment. Note though that Snapchat announced the same feature on their app today as well just a few hours ahead of Facebook.
Among all the AR features, SLAM is the more interesting one, especially if you think of the real world day-to-day applications. Imagine leaving an AR note for your wife on the ref? Or maybe etching your name on your favorite table in your neighborhood cafe? There’s a lot that can be done here, it boils down to how many applications can be created that will allow for users to adopt and enjoy this new technology at scale.
Speaking of scale, the goal is for Facebook to rollout this platform across their family of applications: Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger to name a few. This will give them a greater chance of higher adoption of these technologies versus Snapchat. Facebook can also monetise this faster as Snapchat is slow in expanding outside of the US when it comes to advertising products.
It’s definitely an interesting time for Facebook as they become more aggressive in this space. It’s clear though that their near term (3-5 years) bet is Augmented Reality. It makes you wonder if Snapchat will be able to survive this or if they will eventually follow Frienster and MySpace into the Silicon Valley social graveyard of failed apps and websites.
Let us know what you guys think about this brewing war between Facebook and Snapchat in the comments section below!