Face filters are one of the most exciting tools when it comes to mobile AR and WebAR. Face filters are used for entertainment as well as for marketing purposes, allowing users to overlay items and effects on footage of their face in real time.
Right now, the only way for most entities to leverage face filters is to go through one of the social media organizations that create and disseminate them. Otherwise, they often need to make a dedicated app.
8th Wall is an industry leader in WebAR – AR that can be accessed through a browser rather than through a headset or dedicated application. They’ve done some groundbreaking things in the last few years but Face Effects, their new tools for face filters, are a definite game-changer.
Introducing Face Effects
“At 8th Wall, we’re on a mission to make (extended) reality content available for everyone and were doing that by honing the power of the open web,” 8th Wall’s VP of Product Tom Emrich said in a zoom interview last week, which included an early demo of the tool. “8th Wall has now become the first web development platform to release face effects tools.”
The Face Effects tool, which launched on the first day of the Augmented World Expo, works by overlaying a face mesh with a collider onto a head occluder, according to 8th Wall Interaction Designer Rigel Benton.
The face mesh is the scaffold that the digital elements rest on, while the collider means that other digital elements interact with the user’s face rather than passing through it. The head occluder prevents digital elements from being seen through the head.
Digital elements can be anchored to any number of points on the user’s face, including the bridge of the nose, chin, each eyebrow, etc.
The face filters can be used for digital artefacts like glasses, hats, etc. However, the face mesh, or portions of the face mesh, can also be filled or removed to create partial masks. Benton is particularly excited about a feature that plays video over the face mesh.
“What’s interesting about things like videos is that, because it’s just a video, you could use a live feed or a feature film,” said Benton. “It makes it really accessible for people who aren’t 3D-first but maybe really know their way around (video editing tools).”
Using the Tool
8th Wall’s face filter tool can work on a website accessed by a mobile device, or on a laptop or web-cam-connected desktop. In working as a desktop WebAR experience, the tool is a first for 8th Wall.
“This is really exciting for us as we’ve been mobile-based up to this point,” said Benton.
The tool should also be exciting to web developers looking to incorporate WebAR into their businesses and experiences.
Prior to this tool, web developers needed to build their own WebAR experiences from scratch or work with social media companies that allow XR. Building experiences from scratch was difficult and expensive and working with social media companies meant a loss of control, both over the product and the data associated with it.
“The big thing about 8th Wall Face Effects is that the developers are free to create a face effect that is really going to maximize their return on investment,” said Emrich. “With 8th Wall, they’re going to be able to launch face effects that can leverage live APIs. These face effects can be on any website and with our recent in-line capabilities, you can actually embed the content.”
The example that Emrich gave for using Face Effects with live APIs was an “end-to-end virtual try-on.” Users of the site would be able to scroll through glasses, hats, makeup, etc., pick a product, use the WebAR experience to try it on, and then add it to a cart, all from the same page.
Getting Face Effects
The WebAR tool gives users access to the code that they can use as a template to create their experiences and even make real-time changes. However, users can also use their own images, videos, textures, and models.
“We always provide our developers with the code templates to help our users get up and running,” said Emrich.
The tool is currently available to the public at www.8thwall.com.