Mark Zuckerberg Talks Augmented Reality

'Over time this kind of content is going to augment existing real-world objects and eventually replace them'

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg elaborated on the social network’s plans for augmented reality during the company’s first-quarter-2017 earnings call Wednesday.

During the question-and-answer portion of the call, Nomura Instinet analyst Anthony DiClemente asked:

Mark, at F8 and in your comments today, you talked about making the camera central to the application, making the camera the first augmented reality platform. I know it’s early, but can you maybe share with us your thoughts about the potential commercial application of augmented reality as you see it today?

And Zuckerberg answered:

The big step forward that we announced at F8 is that there are lots of different apps that have cameras in them, or independent developers just build an app that has a single camera effect. But what we’re basically saying is that there’s so much innovation and so many different types of effects that people are creating that we don’t want developers to have to build their own separate app and get to a huge scale in order to build some new kind of visual tool.

So we built—we’re making the cameras inside the whole family of apps into the first augmented reality platform, into an open platform, which is different from what any other app that has a camera has done before. It’s going to open up a much greater diversity of use cases, not only making it so that use cases like facemasks or style transfers that we already have, you’re now going to have thousands of options instead of just 10 or 20 at a time. But there are also going to be all these new kinds of things that we’re not even building today that developers will be able to experiment with.

One of the examples I showed at F8 was around using object recognition and computer vision to be able to point your camera at something and then tap on it and get a card of information and maybe even a buy button. So there are lots of different ways that over time this kind of content is going to both augment existing real-world objects and eventually replace them, which I think is going to be an interesting opportunity maybe not on augmented reality on the phone, but on glasses eventually.

When you have that, I think we’re going get to a point where things like TVs, you no longer need a physical TV. You’ll get a $1 app that you can watch it screen on. And it will just be an interesting exercise to see how many of the things that we have that are physical things don’t actually need to be physical in that world, and how much innovation that opens up for independent developers all around the world. A lot of people don’t have a factory, so they can’t build a TV. But think about how many kids and different developers around the world, kids sitting in dorm rooms and all these different places, are going be able to create things that today they couldn’t.

So I hope this is going to create a pretty interesting economy. So a lot of that stuff is pretty far out, five, 10 years. But we want to be pushing this forward. I think we’re a little bit late to the trend initially around making cameras the center of how sharing works. But I do think at this point, we’re pretty much ahead in terms of the technology that we’re building, and making it an open platform I think is a big is a big step forward. A lot of people are using these products across our family of apps, and I would expect us to continue leading the way forward on this from this point on.

Image courtesy of Yagi-Studio/iStock.