Facebook Is Using Computer Vision To Bring AR To The Masses, Dev Platform Available Now

Facebook showed the world it was serious about virtual reality technology when it dropped more than $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR. The company isn’t done with VR by a long shot, but it’s now setting its sights on augmented reality, as well. During the F8 Developer Conference opening keynote, Mark Zuckerberg announced a development platform that brings AR technology to the palm of your hand through the technology in your smartphone.

Facebook’s AR Studio development platform takes advantage of the cameras that you’ll find on every smartphone and leverages cutting-edge computer vision and machine learning advancements to transform your everyday world into augmented experiences.

Facebook sees AR Studio as the beginning of a new platform that will pave the way for mainstream adoption of augmented reality technology. Zuckerberg said that he originally thought that it would take 5-10 years for AR to catch on, but he thought you would need AR glasses for the technology to work. But recent advancements in computer vision and smartphone technology have proven otherwise. Augmented reality technology is accessible to almost anyone now.

Facebook’s AR Studio platform provides tools for 3D artists and developers to create unique augmented experiences that blend in with the real world. The platform allows developers to create 3D objects and animations that interact with live video feeds. Facebook uses the power of computer vision and Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) technology to create realistic interactions between virtual and real-world objects. For example, if you place a virtual object on a table, it will appear as though it’s sitting on the table from any angle at which you look at it, including realistic occlusion from objects around it.

The AR Studio platform supports face masks, styles transfers, and realistic 3D objects, but Facebook sees more than just silly image effects in AR Studios’ future. Facebook expects that developers will create games and other apps with AR Studio, and it’s already experimented with creating an urban art project for augmented reality.

Zuckerberg said that it would take time for the AR Studio platform to take shape. Over time, the company will release more features that allow developers to create more ambitious applications and experiences, but Zuckerberg believes that developers will be slow to adopt the platform at first.

Facebook is currently running a closed beta test of the AR Studio platform. If you have an APP idea, you can apply for access from the Facebook Camera Effects website.   

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  • bit_user
    I wish them luck. I'm skeptical that it's going to work well enough on the range of real-world devices, in real-world conditions. One thing is certain: it'll definitely chew through your battery's charge, making me wonder how willing people will even be to enable the feature.

    I do hope this creates a strong market for purpose-built AR devices, like Lenovo's Phab 2 Pro and Asus' Zenfone AR. Not to mention Hololens and Magic Leap (if they don't fall short ;-)
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  • dikbozo
    This looks to me like Facebook does face plant. Or face palm, as in what were we thinking? This is somewhat like Philip K. Dick saw for the future of advertising back in the 60's with tailored ads streamed into the eyes of people passing through public spaces. The ad platform is ultimately Zuckerberg's raison d'etre for this 'technology'.
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  • bit_user
    Anonymous said:
    This is somewhat like Philip K. Dick saw for the future of advertising back in the 60's with tailored ads streamed into the eyes of people passing through public spaces. The ad platform is ultimately Zuckerberg's raison d'etre for this 'technology'.
    I'll play devil's advocate.

    I think his main objective is to make Facebook more immersive, pervasive, and engaging. What if he doesn't like the way that FB currently isolates people and confines them to their homes or wherever they can sit down and get sucked into their phone screen? What if he genuinely wants people to get out more?

    Better & more ways to deliver ads are merely a side-benefit. And that's not the only one. AR also provides new ways to gather information about people, and new ways to market FB's services to local businesses, tourism, etc.

    In any case, we should keep in perspective that he spent over $2B of investors' money on buying Oculus. Eventually, he's got to try to make this stuff pay off.
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