Facebook's working on new types of AR and VR tools which will broaden the potential applications of such options, based on body mapping.
In a new post on the Facebook Research blog, Facebook's team outlines how they're looking to map still images, establishing depth and movement within a frame.
As explained by Facebook:
"Recent research in human understanding aims primarily at localizing a sparse set of joints, like the wrists, or elbows of humans. This may suffice for applications like gesture or action recognition, but it delivers a reduced image interpretation. We wanted to go further. Imagine trying new clothes on via a photo, or putting costumes on your friend’s photos. For these tasks, a more complete, surface-based image interpretation is required."
Called DensePose, the project aims to articulate potential human movement and depth within each frame, and is already able to recognize individual people and objects. The advances here could lead to a whole new range of AR/VR applications.
To further their research, Facebook has open-sourced DensePose, expanding the potential research pool.
"Our goal in open sourcing DensePose is to make our research accessible and as open as possible. We hope that DensePose brings researchers and developers across Computer Vision, Augmented Reality and Computer Graphics closer together and will soon give rise to new experiences — whether it’s creating whole-body filters or learning new dance moves from your cell phone."
While Snapchat was the first platform to adopt AR, at least on any significant scale, Facebook's now advancing its AR tools quickly, introducing new options which could soon make Snap's variations largely obsolete.
Among Facebook's existing advances are more responsive filters which recognize real-world objects, filters that react to different movements (other than your face), and background segmentation tools which can change the look of your scene.
Snapchat doesn't have the same capacity as yet, but the app has been able to successfully compete through innovation, introducing popular, trending tools that have gained traction, despite not being as technically advanced.
Will that hold as Facebook continues to develop its AR options? Facebook, through Instagram and WhatsApp, already leads Snapchat by a significant margin in Stories use, the gateway to such tools.
These new options could open up a whole new range of fun, engaging AR options - if Snap wants to keep up and ensure Facebook doesn't trample them with new, advanced tools, it'll need to rely on its design nous and audience understanding.
And it could be a difficult charge to hold back.