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At F8 Conference, Facebook Talks of Building Community through AR

20 April 2017, 07:06 | Bernard Bryant

Augmented reality is the lesser-known but potentially more impactful cousin of virtual reality. The new camera technology lets you move around within the video scene and experience the content from different viewing angles.

Facebook wants you to sit in your bedroom wearing a headset and take a virtual vacation with faraway friends and family.

In the short term, Facebook's play for augmented reality is going to look a lot like competing with Snapchat - and in a meaningful way, it is.

Among the new application upgrades offered is "Facebook spaces", which uses Oculus Rift and Touch to create personal avatars that can interact in a virtual 3D space. The firm already sells the Oculus VR headset but it has been relying on third-party developers to create apps for the headset. Users will be portrayed in the virtual reality environment with the body language that they do in real life.

The World Lenses follow up the popular Lenses feature, which launched a year ago, letting users "puppies, puked rainbows, face-swapped with our best friends - and begun to explore how Lenses can change the world around us", according to the Evan Spiegel-led company.

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Facebook is planning to tap into augmented reality technology popularised by the hit smartphone game Pokemon Go.

Now, Abrash fully admits that it will take decades before this vision is fully realized, but he didn't shy away from declaring that in five years, AR technology could effectively make smartphones obsolete.

Messenger will also let people chat with outside businesses as a group. The idea is simplify what might otherwise require a flurry of texts and sharing of links. (The company says it is working to improve its procedures after acknowledging it only received reports on the murder video an hour and a half after it was posted). That raised questions about Facebook's ability to monitor gruesome material on its site.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg vowed to work to keep the world's leading social network from being used to propagate grisly acts like the murder of an elderly man on Easter Sunday. As The New York Times notes, Zuckerberg has always been disappointed that Facebook never built a credible smartphone operating system of its own.

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