Will Facebook’s Push for Augmented Reality Help It Compete with Tiktok?
by Adam Pease and Jim Lundy
While Facebook just published a new expose on its upcoming wearable augmented reality offering, it is fighting a war with Tiktok that features extensive use of Augmented Reality based filters on both platforms. After acquiring CTRL-Labs in 2019, Facebook has been working on a combined AR/wearable solution that is meant to deliver a new kind of computing experience.
However, while that is in the future, the competition now is with off-the-shelf AR on Instagram and the race to compete with Tiktok. In this blog, we discuss the rise of AR and how it is becoming a new way to engage others for entertainment. The bigger use case for AR is learning and training but the battle right now is for users – the war between Instagram and Facebook is on.
Facebook’s New Wearable a glimpse into the future
The aim of Facebook’s new device is lofty and futuristic. The social media giant promises a wristband that can translate thoughts into actions. It works through electromyography, which senses for electrical impulses that start in the brain and then translates those signals into actions. The idea is that you can execute an action like swiping a screen or opening a file, just by thinking it.
By recording neural activity, Facebook suggests its device could even go as far as to enable hands-free typing. Through augmented reality glasses, Facebook suggests the device will hook directly into an interface, enabling a hands-free visual computing experience.
Augmented Reality – Ready for Take Off?
Remember Google Glass? Google’s AR-enhanced lenses, released in 2013, were an audacious flop for the tech giant. For a variety of reasons ranging from their appearance to their feature set, to their marketing, Google’s attempt at pushing augmented reality forward struck out 8 years ago.
The story of Google Glass raises questions about whether consumers are ready for augmented reality. Can Facebook succeed where Google failed? It certainly remains to be seen. AR/VR technology has had struggles in the past inciting consumer adoption, as these technologies often expect consumers to adjust many of their fundamental habits, which can prove to be a serious hurdle.
However, the AR of today does not need glasses or headsets. For industrial use cases, it certainly helps. But today, filters and AR overlays to videos on Instagram and Tiktok are the rage. A growing number of Tiktok
One big thorn in Facebook’s side will surely be privacy. As we have observed in the past, Facebook is not the industry’s best when it comes to respecting consumer privacy, and with more of a media spotlight on its practices, many consumers may not be so quick to consent to a wearable that monitors their very brain activity.
Facebook Instagram Pushes AR to compete with Tiktok
Facebook is all about selling ads and do that it needs to keep engaging people, to stave off the rise of Tiktok, which recently launched special AR effects on the iPhone 12 using its LIDAR camera. Facebook is countering Tiktok by AR effectively on Instagram which has seen a huge rise in popularity since it launched its Reels – an outshoot of Stories and which features growing use of AR.
Right now, the monetization of short videos by adding AR to them is the battle. The reason is that people want their faceshots to look better and that is a huge market.
Facebook is making it easier to use AR and is offering free training for their Spark AR platform. They also have a growing partner network globally. However, the general consensus is that Tiktok still has more features and effects – so look for this race to get more heated in late 2021 and 2022.
Apple and Microsoft – double down in AR
Facebook is pushing hard for AR mainly because it is losing users to TikTok. That said, we expect to be a large push from both Apple (ARKit) and Microsoft (HoloLens). Apple has a well-developed ARKit that anyone can use – including Facebook and Tiktok.
On the corporate side, Microsoft is ahead in this area – with HoloLens going industrial – and as a result, they won a $21 Billion Contract with the US Department of Defense. Apple is coming and its Glasses project is fully staffed and working on future products, one of which could be Apple Glasses.
Right now, it is all about filters – which use AR to make a person in a scene look better – or to add after-effects – such as graffiti at a graduation celebration. While people learn about using these capabilities, the big surge that is coming is using AR at work. For now, expect to see lots of innovation in the consumer space = as the battle between Facebook and Tiktok rages on.
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