Facebook goes virtual: Firm unveils VR and AR software
- Founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference
- New platform will allow developers to build their own AR apps
- Beta system will be available for free download from today
- Will include face masks similar to Snapchat’s along more advanced AR apps
- Firm also revealed its first VR app, called Spaces
Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled Facebook’s augmented reality system – and confirmed rumours the firm is developing a ‘mind control’ brain interface.
The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center to introduce what he called the ‘second act’ in Facebook’s camera strategy – a new platform to allow developers to build AR apps that intensifies its battle with Snapchat.
He also hinted at the firm’s more distant future, confirming rumours it is developing a radical mind reading computer interface – and promised more details on the project ‘soon’.
‘We’re building further out beyond augmented reality, and that includes work around direct brain interfaces that one day will let you communicate using only your mind, although that stuff is pretty far out,’ he said.
Zuckerberg also addressed the tragedy in Cleveland, saying ‘our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr, we have a lot of work to do and we’ll do everything we can to help prevent these tragedies.’
He first unveiled a new augmented reality platform allowing developers to build AR apps.
Zuckerberg said new phone-based applications might include creating a three-dimensional scene from a single two-dimensional photo or splattering the walls of your house with colorful (virtual) art.
‘We’re gathered here for the second biggest event called F8 this week,’ said Mark Zuckerberg, referencing the release of the hit film F8: The Fast and the Furious.
‘You may have noticed we rolled out cameras across our apps, that was act one,’ he said.
Today, we’re going to talk about act two – augmented reality.
‘We know where we want this go eventually – glasses or contact lenses that overlay this,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘This will help us mix the physical and digital in new ways, and make reality better’.
‘I used to think glasses would be the firm major firm factor. But we are seeing versions with out phone cameras’.
‘Giving developers the power to build for augmented reality.
MESSENGER BOOSTS SHARING
Facebook also announced a bevy of updates to Messenger, its increasingly independent messaging app.
Messenger head David Marcus claims the app has become the de facto “white pages” of messaging, since people can find and chat with friends without knowing their phone number.
Now, Messenger wants to do the same for businesses, creating a “yellow pages” of sorts that let companies communicate with their customers.
Messenger will also let people chat with outside businesses as a group.
That would, for instance, allow groups of friends to share Spotify playlists or to make a restaurant reservation through OpenTable that keeps everyone on the same page.
The idea is simplify what might otherwise require a flurry of texts and sharing of links.
‘We’ll start today with basic effect such as face masks.
You’ll have thousands of options.’
However, Zuckerberg said the system will be more complex than simple snapchat-style filters.
Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s 10-year road map that calls for powerful technologies to radically alter how people connect with friends and family and the world at large.
Zuckerberg said games were likely to be a key component, and showed off a demo of a game turning a table into an AR game, allowing children to interact with objects on it.
‘This isn’t going to happen overnight, over time I think this will change how we use our phones, and eventually all of our technology,’ he said.
‘Even if we were a little slow to add cameras to our apps, I’m confident we will move this along.’
Zuckerberg also confirmed the firm was developing a ‘mind computer interface’ that will one day allow users to communicate machine,, and said more details would be made available about the project soon.
In April, the site revealed the existence of a new division, known only as ‘Building 8’ which is dedicated to creating ground-breaking products at the intersection of hardware, software, and content.
And a new job advert posting suggested that the mysterious division could be working on mind-reading technology.
One advert is for a ‘brain-computer interface engineer’ to work on a ‘2-year B8 project focused on developing advanced BCI technologies.’
Details on what the job will involve are limited, but the advert adds that one of the key responsibilities will be applying ‘machine learning methods, including encoding and decoding models, to neuroimaging and electrophysiological data.’
The second advert is for a ‘neural imaging engineer’ who will be responsible for ‘a project focused on developing novel non-invasive neuroimaging technologies.’
Both jobs are based at the Menlo Park site in California.
These limited descriptions suggest that Building 8 might be working on monitoring how brain activity changes when looking at pictures or videos. source