Facebook plans to augment your reality at F8
Style Magazine Newswire | 4/17/2017, 1 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO — On Tuesday, Facebook wants to augment your reality.
That's when the giant social network hosts its annual F8 conference for software developers, a decidedly geeky affair that nevertheless has real-world implications for everyday Facebook users.
Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook's 10-year road map that calls for powerful technologies to radically alter how people connect with friends and family and the world at large. This year Facebook is poised to show off what it meant.
Here's the future according to Facebook: The smartphone camera is on the verge of taking augmented reality mainstream, changing how people use Facebook, how they interact with each other and how they interact with the world.
Think Pokemon Go but on steroids. We will wander not one, but two worlds — the physical and the digital — wearing glasses or contact lenses that can summon information about the street we are walking on or the restaurant we are eating in or let us manipulate digital objects that feel real but aren't really there.
The augmented reality lenses that Facebook is building to deliver that hybrid experience are still years in the offing. But smartphones are already in our pockets and Facebook believes they can start delivering experiences that mix the digital with the physical much sooner than we think.
"We are clearly in a visual world. It’s interesting to think about all of the things we do with our eyes and why our phones don’t help us do more of this on camera. Recognizing whether we are in the right place, seeing people around us, capturing memories without having to make a lot of effort to take a photo," says Josh Elman, a partner with Greylock who worked for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter before becoming a venture capitalist. "Facebook knows this and it’s going hard."
For the moment, the augmented reality tricks we can do with smartphones are fairly primitive, technically speaking. For instance: Facebook's camera effects that jazz up selfies with silly or whimsical masks, frames and filters.
But Facebook isn't just in the business of helping people take "cool selfies," says Gartner analyst Brian Blau. It's focused on creating experiences that will fundamentally change how people interact with each other and the physical world.
"We are just seeing the beginning of the sophistication of smartphones and how they relate to the user and how the user can use them in mixed and augmented reality scenarios," says Blau.
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