The most promising technology of today’s era is the integration of Augmented Reality to the Virtual Reality. It is continuously under work by the renowned companies and startups like Apple Inc. and Google-backed Magic Leap. After Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram imitated the unique ‘story’ feature of the popular application- Snapchat, now it seems as if the company is getting back on Facebook and sharing its spotlight, by introducing its new 3-D augmented reality (AR).

With Facebook finally launching its long-awaited VR experience after a year, Snapchat, on Tuesday, announced Augmented Reality in the social media with the introduction of “World Lenses” – a set of lenses for a rear camera that allows you place Virtual/ Computer-generated objects in the real world. E.g. its places a flower crown on its famous puppy dog. Snapchat said in a blog post:

“We launched Lenses a year and a half ago as a whole new way to express ourselves on Snapchat. Since then, we’ve become puppies, puked rainbows, face-swapped with our best friends — and begun to explore how Lenses can change the world around us.”

How to use it:

  1. Tap open your Snapchat’s camera on your phone.
  2. While facing the rear camera, you will be presented the newly integrated 3D lenses.
  3. For now, the things you can add are:
  • A cloud
  • A rainbow
  • Flowers
  • A Floating “OMG”

According to the company, new objects are said to be added and changed on daily basis.

  1. Once you’ve selected the lens of your choice, it can be moved with your finger, anywhere on your screen before you capture any image or video.
  2. After you’ve placed it, you’ll feel as if the object really exists in the real world. E.g.:
  • If you walk closer to the 3-D object, it gets zoomed in. Other Snapchat stickers available on the app were flat.
  1. Tapping on the object will allow you to toggle between animations. E.g. rainbow face can be made to be looked as a cloud crying. Also, a coffee mug can be seen with its tongue sticking out.
  2. You can also record a video with yourself wearing a 3-dimensional flower crown and then record the flowers sprouting via rear camera.

How did Mark Zuckerberg – CEO Facebook Respond?

Zuckerberg upon hearing the news of Snapchat’s new feature said:

“Even if we were a little slow to add cameras to all our apps, I’m confident we’ll push this forward”

He also said that with the use of photo enhancements that is being currently used on applications and such like Snapchat, Instagram, Pokémon Go etc., the augmented reality is representing “the beginning of a new platform”.

When Mark Zuckerberg was questioned about being Facebook less innovative, he said:

“I guess I’m not that worried about that. I mean, I feel like we do different kinds of work in different areas. I think certainly, no one who looks at the solar-powered planes that we’re building or the satellites that were making, and thinks that that stuff isn’t interesting.”

He further said:

“I think one thing that people probably don’t think about as much as we do is innovation to serve everyone in the community, not just the high end, right? So we focus on a lot of things like Facebook Lite. It’s up to 200 million people in like a year … I tend to worry more and think more about the substance of what our community actually wants.”

He said that their ‘copying’ of Snapchat was clearly “misunderstood”, since that is basically the laying groundwork for the Camera Effects Platform that Facebook launched, for developers.

Reaction from users:

While the news rapidly spread widely across the world, the Twitter users seemed to be divided over the fact, whether Snap Inc. got the upper hand on Facebook or vice versa.

Aseem Ali- an entrepreneur from Austin Tex. Tweeted:

“Excited for the future of AR with the announcement of an AR platform by Facebook and the release of world lenses by Snapchat!”

Drawback:

Snapchat may have upgraded itself with the new technology with the addition of Augmented Reality Selfie filters and masks; it still has the absence of a platform for the developers where they can contribute with their creativity. This is what makes it different from Facebook since it provides such platform. Facebook plans to take on board developers to put forward special effects for the users.

“We started it about a year ago. The point was that we kind of felt like we’re going to need cameras because video and photos are becoming more central but the unique thing that we’re going to do is we’re not just going to build basic cameras, we’re going to build the first mainstream augmented reality platform.

But the thing is, you try to chunk up your releases into specific things along the way. And even though we’re going to talk about it at F8, we’re not going to release it all at once even though this is kind of the next chapter. And the first chapter that made sense was to release products that people were familiar with and to kind of stabilize the product before you try to build a platform on top of that, right? It’s really tough to build the product and the platform at the same time.

So I think internally, we just understood where we were going. We’ll roll out the different pieces at different times, but that was partially why we’re rolling all the stuff out quickly as we build a bunch of infrastructures to be able to do all that.”

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