It’s a great day to be an AR creator as several shiny new Spark AR features and capabilities previewed yesterday at Facebook Connect. As expected there were some exciting updates on show, opening up a whole new world of possibilities and experiences for AR.
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The company also announced a change to its corporation name, which will now be called Meta, not Facebook. The Facebook platform, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus will all remain the same and with the same names, it's just the name of the holding company that's changing.
With an increased focus on the metaverse and how the world is moving towards virtual connections, it was apt that the company also announced the following Spark AR updates:
1. Project Polar
Cool name right? The new special project will be a free iOS app, powered by Spark AR, that aims to help you imagine, create and share AR effects and filters directly from your phone. What could be simpler?
Thanks to AR effects in Instagram Stories and Reels, more creators are seeking easy-to-use AR tools to jazz up their profiles. In comes Polar. Built by creators for creators, its intuitive user interface and range of templates means even the most technologically-challenged among us can now get involved with AR creation.
2. World AR
For those looking to test their skills further, World AR is the update for you. Allowing you to build geo-anchored experiences and high-fidelity virtual objects, the new Geo JS API will introduce a world tracker in Spark AR Studio.
Ever fancied creating a scavenger hunt or making a guided tour? Well now’s your chance as AR activations can now be anchored to specific locations or points of interest in the real world.
Text, characters, GIFs, and stickers will also be easier to build and place in the real world, and virtual try-ons and product previews will now also be possible thanks to improvements in technical tooling.
If you're experimenting with World AR, you should absolutely submit your work to our creative brief with Spark AR themselves, who are awarding $2,000 each to 40 creatives who produce an effect! Check it out here.
3. People AR
Spark AR is introducing not one, but two new tracking capabilities - body tracking and hand tracking. Think of all the cool things you will be able to try!
Now you can easily anchor AR effects to body movements, building experiences that see full-body transformations from 20 different 2D key points on a body.
Hand tracking will similarly allow you to augment hand movements. Think comedy skits, performance art, or even potential superpowers. The possibilities are endless.
4. Social AR
If you haven’t had enough of video calls over the last year and half, we have good news for you. Following the introduction of the multipeer API earlier this year, one of the use cases Spark AR has explored is Group Effects. How fun!
Even better, Spark AR has moved the multipeer API into open beta and creators everywhere are invited to explore building Group Effects for Messenger, to be published on Instagram early November.
Round of applause for Spark AR.
If you fancy putting any of your new-found skills to the test, lucky for you we have a brief running with Spark AR itself. Check out the details here.