Could Facebook’s AR Video Calls Solve “Zoom Fatigue”?


Spice up your video calls with AR games and party hats.

With the COVID pandemic forcing many of us to adhere to social distancing measures, video calls have become essential in the way we work, socialize, and learn. Unfortunately, as the pandemic continued, even this once-futuristic form of communication began to take a toll, resulting in what many refer to as “Zoom fatigue.”  

Something needed to change.

During Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference, the company announced that it will be launching a new category of AR (augmented reality) experiences that will help transform standard video calls into fun interactive AR parties using its new Multipeer API

Image Credit: Facebook

This new category will let you share interactive AR effects with anyone on a group video call through Messenger. All you have to do is search for a fun filter that you want to use and then add it to your call. You and your friends could pass around an AR donut to each other using only your nose, or you and your work colleagues could throw on some AR party hats to celebrate landing that big client, and this is just the beginning. 

To help create a large catalog of sharable AR content that can be shared through messaging and video chats, Facebook is inviting Spark AR Studio creators, or anyone with basic JavaScript skills, to apply for the Spark AR Video Calling Beta program.

If chosen, you’ll have access to brand-new tools and capabilities that you can use to build and publish fun and unique AR effects made specifically for multi-person video calls on Messenger, Instagram, and FB Portal. You’ll also be provided with templates, documentation, tutorials, coaching, and other useful resources designed to assist you in creating your own AR experiences.

Image Credit: Facebook

For Facebook, it’s all about using AR and video calls as a way to create more meaningful interactions with you and your friends.  

“We envision a world that is overlaid with a landscape of virtual objects that helps us share, learn and play together, regardless of the distance between us,” said Chris Barbour, Director of Partnerships for Spark AR.

That being said, AR effects aren’t new for Facebook’s messaging apps. Instagram and FB Messenger both offer creative AR filters, while Portal already lets you use AR and AR games in real-time as you chat with friends. This new update will move that multiperson AR feature over to Instagram and Messenger, delivering the type of interactions Barbour envisions with Facebook users.

Image Credit: Facebook

Facebook hasn’t been shy about its endeavors with AR and VR tech. During F8, the company outlined a roadmap detailing its commitment to pushing immersive entertainment and communication further by building off current technology. As Zuckerberg told developers during the conference, “Some of the most important services in the world started when someone looked at an existing issue, and just found a better way to build. And I’m optimistic that some of the next generation of services are going to start right here with you.”

Facebook’s Spark AR Video Calling Beta is currently a closed beta program. The company is currently reviewing applications on a rolling basis. To apply, click here

Feature Image Credit: Facebook

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