Facebook has historically been active in the acquisition space but it seems that their latest investment is opening up a new market for B2C augmented reality. The social network is bringing the popular face-swapping app MSQRD to their 1.6 billion user network. The purchase is said to rival Snapchat’s animated selfie lenses, powered by Looksery.
Although when Snapchat bought their animated selfie engine, Looksery was removed from the app store. Facebook says that MSQRD will continue to operate as a standalone app on iOS and Android.
Pronounced Masquerade, the live filter and face-swap app masks your face with video filters applied in real time. There are a range of live video effects you can try on or you can even become your favorite celebrity for the time being.
Hundreds of thousands of consumers have used MSQRD’s distinct filters even despite Snapchat’s early entrance into the space. But will the Facebook’s acquisition validate a new market for augmented reality?
MSQRD describes their software as a face tracking and 3D effects rendering program with an SDK allowing the video filters to integrate to any iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OS X application. Even though they haven’t been available to the public for long, their imaging technology has remained superior.
Consumers identified the demand for such a service after Snapchat started to implement the bigger idea of real time video filters, specifically with selfies. MSQRD has taken the torch and continued to improve and connect virtual faces with a user’s facial expressions. Based out of Belarus, MSQRD will keep their core team there while key members – Eugene Nevgen, Sergey Gonchar and Eugene Zatepyakin – work out of its London office.
Facebook didn’t announce the price tag on their acquisition of the face altering app but Snapchat admitted their purchase of Looksery cost them nearly $150M. As facial recognition and video overlay continues to grow as a developing market; the mainstream presence of augmented reality will grow as well. Oculus, another Facebook company, is soon to release their first headsets. Combined with MSQRD’s abilities, Facebook could quite possibly start using their VR product for facial recognition and identity pairing.
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