Facebook Has Introduced New AR Effects to Spark AR
Facebook recently opened up the Spark AR platform on Instagram for all creators and the tech giant is already in the process of widening the capabilities of the platform on Snapchat.
On Monday this week, Facebook released the version 76 of its Spark AR Studio. The version adds support for two new AR effect options for developers. It will also incorporate other improvements for building augmented reality experiences in general.
One of the most important of these new AR capabilities is Target Tracking. This is Facebook’s version of Market Tracking on Snapchat which will transform logos, posters as well as other 2D images into an augmented reality canvas that creators can use to embed 3D content and other augmented reality effects.
For Spark AR Team, expanding the target tracking to Instagram is a key milestone in the goal of bringing augmented reality to the mainstream. The team is also in the process of creating target tracking-enabled effects which are already available in a wide range of higher end and lower end mobile devices while still offering end users the best experience possible. According to the team, this will guarantee users in any market a consistent access to the Spark AR effects. The expansion of target tracking on Instagram announced this week focuses on the static images but Spark AR has stated that it is currently working on incorporating additional functionality such as moving target tracking and multi-target tracking. All of these new features will create new possibilities for those using Spark AR.
A Facebook spokesperson has revealed that an advertiser has already tested the additional functionality. Starbucks tapped into the advanced features for its Instagram augmented reality experience which sends season’s greetings in augmented reality whenever users scan its 2019 series of holiday cups.
Additionally, Spark AR creators will also be able to implement Native UI Sliders which will provide users with a controller for adjusting the impact of an augmented reality effect in real-time such as the intensity of immersion and size of objects.
The new capabilities such as Native Slider give users more personalization as well as control thereby enabling creators to build much better and more improved augmented reality experiences on Instagram.
Facebook has also incorporated two additional features that simplify the creation of augmented reality experiences. Firstly, Spark AR will gain templates for common augmented reality experiences such as background segmentation, face masks, 3D objects and color filters. Secondly, the Spark AR platform now provides a set of shortcuts which bundle together some of commonly-used patches known as Actions which help reduce the clicks in developer workflows. There is also the new In-App Upload features that allows users to directly publish their creations within the Spark AR Studio.
You can download the new Spark AR Studio version on compatible Windows and Mac OD desktops.
Developers will likely welcome the usability improvements but the new Instagram features have also been designed to address the gaps between Instagram and Snapchat. Some brands such as HBO and Nike have leveraged Snapchat’s Marker Tracking to deploy image marker-based augmented reality ads. The slider UI was a major part of Snapchat’s new Time Machine Lens.
Instagram has notched up high-profile advertising clients since the launch of its closed beta in 2018. These include Christian Dior and Pepsi among other top brands that have adopted AR effects for Instagram.
AR filters have been instrumental in the technology’s leap into the mainstream mass market. According to Facebook, hundreds of millions of users are using AR effects every month in their app ecosystem. Because everyone can upload AR filters on Instagram, there is now a huge variety of effects, some of which have been controversial such as the beauty surgery filter “Fix Me”.
On the competitive Snapchat platform, filters have been key to user growth. In the coming year, the first smartphones that will be equipped with AR-optimized hardware are likely to hit the market such as the new iPhone Pro which will in turn increase the capabilities of AR filters.