Facebook will rely on phones on apps for augmented reality images

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, presents during the company’s F8 conference in San Jose, Calif., April 18, 2017. Zuckerberg introduced what he positioned as the first mainstream augmented reality platform, a way for people to view and digitally manipulate the physical world around them through the lens of their smartphone cameras. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Mark Zuckerberg presented during the company’s F8 conference in San Jose, Calif.

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook Inc. chief executive Mark Zuckerberg laid out his strategy for augmented reality, saying the social network will use smartphone cameras to overlay virtual items on the real world rather than waiting for AR glasses to be technically possible.

People will be able to use their phones to play games virtually on coffee tables, overlay statistics on a video of their daily run, leave a virtual note on the fridge, and more, Zuckerberg said Tuesday on stage at F8, the company’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. It’s an evolution of the kind of technology that Snap Inc. pioneered, allowing people to change their faces into fun characters like puppies and vomiting rainbows. Facebook has spent the last few months adding Snapchat-like cameras to all of its apps.

“Even if we were a little slow to add cameras to all our apps, I’m confident we’re going to push this augmented reality platform forward,” Zuckerberg said. “As silly as these effects might seem, they’re actually really important and meaningful because they allow us to share what’s important to us on a daily basis.”


Zuckerberg said he’s going to open a platform for developers to make augmented reality camera effects for Facebook’s apps, “so we can just be sitting here and we want to play chess, snap, here’s a chessboard and we can play together,” he said. “Or a digital TV on the wall; instead of a piece of hardware it’s a $1 app.”

Earlier Tuesday, Snap revealed it will also make it possible to overlay three-dimensional effects on a person’s surroundings.