Since they first appeared, virtual reality and augmented reality have been two distinct technologies, although users often confused them. If you too are making this mistake, please check our article explaining the difference. One thing that no one considered for a long time was bringing these two technologies together to create a fully immersive and interactive user experience. But soon enough this will happen, and we’ll have Facebook to thank.
New Technologies and Social Media: a Match Made in Heaven
Interacting with friends through a small phone-size screen (4.5 to 5.5 inches) is not easy. Photos and videos are great, GIFs are cool, but what is the next frontier in online communications? Facebook seems to have the answer ready: building 3D objects in virtual reality and sharing them on Facebook. Friends can use the augmented reality capabilities of their smartphone to interact with objects, and explore new ways of using them.
But how close to reality is this vision? Very close. There have already been some interesting interactive objects uploaded to Facebook, such as a LEGO parrot, a Jurassic World dinosaur, a virtual living room from Wayfair, and a handbag scanned with a Sony phone. Facebook hopes “these new tools will help more artists, developers and businesses to share their creations, so people can discover and explore rich 3D content right from their News Feed.”
“In the future, we envision a seamless digital world where people can share immersive experiences and objects like these across VR, AR and Facebook News Feed. To get there, we’ll work on supporting even higher quality 3D models, enabling interactive animations and bringing 3D content into the real world using AR. This is only the beginning, and we look forward to seeing the ecosystem of 3D content grow on Facebook as people, developers and artists contribute their creativity,” Aykud Gönen, product manager at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.
To demonstrate how this merging of new technologies will work, take a look at this demo video:
Virtual Reality Objects Manipulated in AR: More than Just Fun and Games
Of course, most of the users will appreciate the 3D posts for their entertainment value. The possibilities are endless: users can virtually create chess or backgammon pieces and play a game online with their Facebook friends. Or they can share fashion and makeup advice with each other, allowing for input, such as dressing a 3D model created in virtual reality in various fashion styles.
But there is a huge potential for marketing and sales through gamification, as well. Brands can create and share 3D models of their products, allowing their Facebook followers to test them. They can organize contests inviting users to find new and original ways to customize products or to use them in an innovative manner. The possibilities are endless.
Who Will Create the Content?
In the initial phase, Facebook users who own Xperia Z1 smartphones will be able to use the 3D Creator app developed by Sony to create and share 3D object as Facebook posts. Computer users can pick objects from the Oculus Medium gallery or create them through Modo 3D modeling software.
Meanwhile, Facebook is working on new Graph API endpoints which will allow developers to embed 3D sharing into any app. Thus, users will be able to add their 3D objects to Facebook with just one click, while developers will be able to drag and drop 3D files directly into their Facebook timeline and create a post.
With its new virtual/augmented reality project, Facebook shows that it wants to take its users to the next level of interactivity. It is worth watching this trend and noting whether other social media networks will follow the example of Facebook of incorporating augmented and virtual reality into their platforms.