Facebook unveils new AR, VR platforms and products

Mark Zuckerberg wearing the Oculus virtual reality headset

Kicking off the firm's annual F8 dev conference, just hours after Intel announced plans to scrap its yearly dev-focused event, Facebook CEO and Pokemon Go fan Mark Zuckerberg announced that the firm is opening up its AR platform.

The product, called "Spaces," lets users create a digital avatar based on their actual Facebook profile photo, and interact as that person in a virtual world where they can meet other real-world friends.

The company is investing in a number of foundational technologies over the next 10 years, including connectivity, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented reality, Schroepfer said on the concluding day of the conference.

"Even if we were a little slow to add cameras to all our apps, I'm confident that now we're going to push this augmented reality platform forward", he said. Users can build an avatar and use Spaces to "spend time" with up to three other avatars.

Facebook Spaces launched in beta today for the Oculus Rift and Touch. There are ways to enhance the interactive experience, such as drawing in the air with a virtual marker.

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

Eventually, he said, people would use augmented reality on eyewear, although he did not give any details about possible Facebook hardware.

A recent push by Facebook to add camera features to its suite of smartphone apps will help the company popularize similar features, Zuckerberg said.

The platform specifically includes two creative tools, Frame Studio and AR Studio, for creating a range of camera effects, from simple frames to interactive AR experiences.

The new Facebook platform is launching in closed beta, and "it's going to take a while for this to develop", Zuckerberg said.

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