Facebook and Snapchat are both still locked in a competition for attention, especially among younger users. But Facebook’s latest advances in AR, and potentially VR, tools show that the platform could be moving a step ahead – where it could become increasingly difficult for Snap to keep up.
This week, Facebook has showcased two new AR/VR developments. The first, we've reported on previously – Facebook’s developed a new process which can determine depth in photos, which could be used to add realistic AR overlays and tools, providing new potential for images.
Facebook has also demonstrated this new AR/VR application, which uses computer modeling to map a professional musician’s movements.
As explained by Facebook:
“In the long-term goal of using augmented and artificial intelligence to help teach people how to play musical instruments, this research investigated whether correlation between music signals and fingers can be predicted computationally. We show that indeed it can be predicted. To our knowledge, this is the first time such an idea was tested.”
It’s an interesting concept, and uses AR for practical purpose, not just entertainment. And really, such mapping could be utilized for a range of tasks – from learning how to play an instrument (as shown), to learning how Steph Curry shoots a basketball.
The main benefit here is that the viewer can move around and see exactly where the computer model’s body is placed, from the fingers to the arms. You can even stand alongside the visual and match your movements to see where you need to improve.
The tools add to Facebook’s expanding AR/VR research, which is gradually building more and more applications and tools – which, as noted, is likely not great news for Snap Inc.
These include advanced AR filters and tools, like auto-generated backgrounds and digital overlays which respond to a range of movements, while they’ve also been building new geo-locked art tools for advanced creation.
Of course, Snap does have similar to this, with its ‘Snap Art’ series, but overall, Facebook’s tools are evolving beyond what Snap can offer - and with a growing number of people using Facebook’s various Stories tools, The Social Network is also exposing more users to such capacity, moving them clearly into the lead.
If Snap loses its industry-leading position on AR tools, what then? Will users keep coming back to Snap, knowing that there are better, more creative, more advanced tools available on Instagram and Facebook? Will younger users stick with Snapchat out of loyalty, or will Facebook’s evolving options lure more of them across?
There’s a range of ways Facebook’s AR tools could be used, but it is interesting to consider them within the context of the ongoing rivalry with Snap, and what that might mean for Evan Spiegel and Co. in future.