SAN JOSE, Calif. — Looking to blend digital and physical worlds, Facebook is betting big on augmented reality as it focuses on building community.
“We’re going to make the camera the first augmented reality platform,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday during the tech firm’s developer conference in San Jose.
Augmented reality allows users to overlay computer-generated images in the real world. People can add 3-D effects to their photos, leave a digital note for their spouse or create a work of art.
They can add swimming sharks to a bowl of cereal, fill an office with digital Skittles or add a coffee mug on a table so they don’t look like they’re eating breakfast alone.
“As silly as effects like this may seem, they’re actually really important and meaningful because they give us the ability to share what matters to us on a daily basis,” Zuckerberg said.
Taking on rival Snapchat and building off the popularity of augmented reality game Pokemon Go, Facebook recently launched a camera app within the social media site so users can add filters and effects to their photos and videos. Now they’re turning to developers to help them build more augmented reality features within Facebook’s camera.
“Cameras can do so much more. They can bring you the world in ways that we haven’t really tapped into yet …,” said Gartner analyst Brian Blau.
Facebook’s efforts in augmented reality are logical but also risky because the tech firm makes most of its money from business advertising, some analysts said.
“I think they see (AR) as an opportunity to make things stickier. To keep you in the experiences for longer,” said IDC analyst John Jackson.
But with 1.9 billion users, Facebook has a much larger audience than Snapchat. It owns Instagram, WhatsApp and virtual reality company Oculus. It’s also making big bets on messaging, virtual reality, chatbots and even internet-beaming drones.
When Facebook first launched in 2004, the company’s focus was connecting family and friends. Today, at a time when society is divided, the tech firm is working more on building community.