In three words, how does the future in the eyes of Facebook look like?
1. Augmented Reality
2. Virtual Reality
Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg hosted the yearly Facebook #F8 developer conference in San Jose, California. Surprisingly, he positioned Facebook as being a leader in augmented reality technology. To make the show even more surprisingly he even stated that Facebook is working on “direct brain interfaces that are going to eventually one day let you communicate using only your mind”.
Mark Zuckerberg began his keynote by underlining that the camera is becoming a key feature in todays and future communication. He admitted that photos and videos are the future of communication. This might remind you of Snap Inc’s slogan:
Phone Based AR – Mark Zuckerberg’s First Step
What is the difference between Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft? The difference between the leader in AR and Facebook is that Mark Zuckerberg thinks that the future or the beginning of AR is phone based. That’s a brave statement. I am not yet convinced that phone based AR will take off. As many different companies (like IKEA) tried AR features and failed with it.
But what exactly is phone based AR? Currently, phone based AR is limited to a few features. Snapchat and MSQRD – a Facebook acquisition – introduced AR filters and masks. You can simply add your location, the weather, or a virtual beard or helmet on top of your image or video. You might agree that these use cases are not yet that spectacular. Mark Zuckerberg envisions scenarios where you have virtual pets and TVs. A social augmented reality where people can leave notes in AR on the wall of their favorite restaurant.
Facebook’s AR Studio
I addition, Mark Zuckerberg introduced the world’s first augmented reality platform: “We are going to make the camera the first mainstream augmented-reality platform”.
In Facebook’s new AR Studio brands can now design their own 3D AR filters for free. What sounds great today might become a money-printing machine for Facebook tomorrow. They might copy Snapchat’s current monetization model and start charging for unique
Mark Zuckerberg sees the smartphone as an important device to make the first step into augmented reality. Facebook will start with phone-based AR. Later on, when the technology advances they “want to get to this world in the future where you eventually have glasses or contact lenses where you can mix digital or physical objects in the real world”.
Other companies – like Microsoft and Magic Leap – envision the future of AR rather with headsets and glasses. I think that phone based AR will not win the acceptance of the majority of people. The real question the future will answer is: will Facebook users adopt the new AR features or not?