After an initial beta testing period, Instagram has finally released their AR functionality (titled “Spark AR”) to the public! This technology allows you to build augmented reality effects for Instagram and share them with your friends and customers including the ability to try on virtual products. Fancy trying a new pair of virtual sunnies from Ray-Ban? They are one of the pre-launch partners tyring our the new feature. This is exciting for a few reasons beyond the obvious so let’s dive into a few definitions to set the scene.
What is AR?
AR (or Augmented Reality) is a technology that brings the digital world into the real world. You’ve very likely heard of apps such as Pokemon Go, but even something as simple as a Snapchat filter (which Spark AR is a ramped-up version of) is technically considered AR as it’s overlaying real-world imagery with digital creativity. However, it’s not all about filters. AR is helping pilots fly better via windscreen and helmet displays, giving directions via AR Maps and can even help surgeons perform better.
So why is what amounts to a glorified filter functionality important?
As with all technology, its entry into our lives is gradual. People often wonder how we could ever possibly embrace technological intrusion into our lives when they’re faced with what’s possible in the future, but what they often fail to understand is that the path there will be gradual. In the case of AR via Instagram, this is the very beginning of that, as is Pokemon Go. When this technology begins uptake in very simple ways, money goes into the industry and innovation starts to happen, which really kicks things off. So we’re quite excited to see social media companies beginning to embrace AR & VR because we know that it means they have exciting plans for the future!
But enough of our future projections. Spark AR is a fun feature that we think will “spark” (sorry) unintended and unexpected creativity and ideas. So head on over to tech.fb.com and find out what all the fuss is about!