In case you missed it, Facebook announced at its F8 developers’ conference a new augmented reality platform. On stage, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated how the mobile camera could seamlessly integrate 3D objects in the real world, adding effects through a camera tool in the Facebook app.
His demonstration highlighted Facebook’s use of advanced SLAM technology. SLAM or Simultaneous Localization and Mapping uses complex algorithms coupled with sensor data to build a 3D map of an environment and calculate position within that environment. This allows 3D or digital objects to be placed accurately in the real environment, but even more allows digital assets to interact with physical objects.
Right now, Facebook is not releasing this functionality to consumers, but rather it will first provide developers with the tools they need to start building their own custom AR experiences.
The same day, Snap released its new AR functionality through World Lenses. World Lenses bring Snap’s popular filters beyond faces. With World Lenses, users can place any digital object in the real world. Similar to the Facebook demonstration, World Lenses highlight advancements in AR and SLAM technology. World Lenses’ digital effects interact with the real environment.
Indeed, both of these announcements drive the AR market toward maturity.
There are already some well-known technologies, like Microsoft’s Kinect and Google’s Tango, that allow for room mapping and depth sensing. Google has put their own resources behind Tango, their computer vision software that enables compatible mobile devices to navigate the physical world. The software platform brings a new kind of spatial perception to Android devices by adding advanced computer vision, image processing, and special vision sensors. Tango has made its debut on a few devices including the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, making depth sensing and room mapping available on Android devices.
But what about Apple? Facebook’s announcement intensified rumors that Apple’s next iPhone release will include camera technology that can support AR experiences. Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff speculates that Facebook wouldn’t use SLAM unless the technology would be widely available in the next iPhone release. FastCompany also reports that Apple may include 3D camera technology in its fall iPhone release.
With all of the major players investing in AR (don’t forget Amazon is too), what does it mean for everyone else?
The implication is that brands need to start thinking beyond mobile web. They need to prepare today for the world of AR that is quickly coming.
For instance, there is no doubt augmented reality will impact online retail. In fact, it already is. Augmented reality removes the guesswork of shopping online by allowing shoppers to visualize products in life-like augmented reality at home before buying. As online shopping evolves, shoppers will come to expect augmented reality product visualization. Retailers without AR capabilities will fall behind their competitors. Learn more about AR for retailers.
As the major platforms like Facebook and Snap invest in AR, advancements in the space will continue to accelerate. The technology will quickly become mainstream and brands who don’t invest today will be left behind tomorrow.