What does Facebook's new VR and AR platforms mean for your brand?

29 April 2017

By / Multitrix

What does Facebook's new VR and AR platforms mean for your brand?

Last week’s 2017 F8 Facebook event caused quite a stir as they unveiled their augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology. Whilst the AR features showcased are mostly still in beta mode, the VR technology is available to a limited audience. Today Multitrix reviews some of the key functionality and what it could mean for your brand.


AR: The Camera Effects Platform

This platform is like Snapchat on steroids and gives creative power to the user. In the BuzzFeed video below you'll see the platform takes the idea of Snapchat lenses and extends this functionality to other objects and parts of the scenery. The video shows how photo and video sharing might be taken to the next level. 

https://www.facebook.com/BuzzFeedTech/videos/1298622390258734/

This platform could make creative content production even easier, but much like the app model, effects have to be submitted and reviewed by Facebook before being made available. Going forward we could see consumers creating an even greater share of the most popular content online, just by using their social apps? The possibilities for your brand to produce their own AR content are impressive, but so too are the possibilities of leveraging newly AR-literate influencers to create some of this stuff on your behalf.


Huge advertising opportunities

Snapchat lenses and filters are already being sponsored. With Facebook's Camera Effects Platform, this potential is hugely multiplied. With a range of objects being recognisable, from cars to clothes, furniture to buildings, food to scenery, the creative applications should allow Facebook to create some very cool branded experiences. 


Adding info cards to real world objects

One of the immediate uses of the AR Studio in the Camera Effect Platform is to add information cards to real world objects. This has broad implications but is particularly interesting in education as the smartphone evolution of making real-world learning more fun has had limited success. Facebook's use of precise location data and not just visual triggers looks like it might expand the possibilities for annotating the real world.


Creative uses vs functional ones?

Labelling of real world objects will be a super cool and functional use, but the real gem in AR is actually identification and search – pointing your camera at something (let's say a bottle) and being told what that thing is and either where to get it or what to do with it.

This is functionality is somewhat around already, but hasn’t quite taken off  –  I.e. Amazon Firefly, Google Goggles and Bing visual search.  As Pinterest and other tech companies enter the visual search space again, it seems Facebook is concentrating on fun aspect. Most likely the fun side of AR is probably the only proven use case on a large scale currently, so Facebook is arguably putting its money in the right place.

VR - Facebook Spaces

Facebook’s explainer video for Spaces is the quickest way to understand the platform. It's a heady mix of communication through avatars, 360-degree scenery, content sharing and 3D drawing. Watch it here:

https://www.facebook.com/FacebookTips/videos/10155260579068466/ 


360-degree content 

There will be many opportunities for your brand to create 360-degree content for your customers to explore. Facebook's new release says: "You and your friends can relive personal memories from your own Timelines, or even make new ones as you explore things that interest you from people and Pages you follow."

Brands such as Thomas Cook, Ted Baker and Renault have all experimented with AR/VR and the addition of social interaction makes for an interesting prospect from an experiential/events marketing point of view as it allows a salesperson to interact with the consumer within the content, rather than simply whacking a headset on a person —which is a much more personable and enjoyable experience. 


Patience, headsets aren’t common place… yet!

Amongst the general populace VR headsets are few and far between at the moment, which means that as Facebook Spaces is rolled out; many interactions must necessarily be between one caller in real life and one in VR. It will take time to decide whether these interactions work?

Your brand won’t need to worry about this for now, as truly social experiences in VR will depend on headset penetration increasing dramatically. 


The markets appetite for animation?

It’s unknown whether people will enjoy these types of experiences. Whilst the millennials and youngsters might want to hide behind an avatar, it won’t for everyone.  Only time will tell if AR and VR make real experiences all the more valuable.

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