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01 Oct 2020

AR Technology Race for Social Media Content is On

Augmented Reality in the past few years has evolved with the speed of light, visibly and more often indistinguishable incorporating itself into our lives. What started as a game obsession with “Pokémon GO” in 2016, is now vastly used by a number of large corporations. Brands like Sephora, Nike and Ikea are bringing a broad variety of AR features and experiences to be on par with the pioneers of digitalization, create more entertaining and engaging content, enhance their social media strategies, to be able to reach out and grab the attention of the ever so changing consumer generation.

With around half of the globe’s population now daily using one or many social media channels to communicate, socialize, learn new things, exchange ideas or work, can we really predict how far will AR incorporate itself into an average user's life? While the projected number of mobile augmented reality users are estimated to reach 2.4 billion by 2023, and Generation Z peaking and becoming the largest fraction of the population in 2019, reaching 32%, it is already fairly safe to say that AR is no longer part of the future and is happening here and now. Thus many marketing professionals have faced the challenge of finding the right format of communication and content to reach out to the new audience demands. With nearly three-quarters or generation Z using social media it is no surprise that the brands are actively looking for new ways to engage their audiences in a genuine and personalized way. 

But what has pushed the brands towards looking into adaptations of AR into Social Media? According to the global web index report 75% of Gen Z can be categorized as Celebrity Networkers that frequently engage with social media, top three reasons for which are to follow their favorite celebrities or influencers, to make sure they don’t miss out on anything or to find funny or engaging content. Generation Z have a unique relationship with technology, demonstrating high fluidity, multitasking and ability to combine different roles striving to create something unique of their own. Which opened a perfect opportunity for Augmented reality to become the catalyst for social media creative content. 

With Snapchat launch in 2011 and years of continuously growing community counting nearly 240 million users worldwide, a unique from many perspectives platform was built. A platform that amongst the pioneers utilized the power of Augmented Reality, aiming at Gen Z and their desire to create, inspire, share and engage with each other, sharing their own unique and artistic vision of reality for everyday communication.   

TikTok launch in 2016 has put the social media market upside down, challenging the status quo of major social media platforms across the globe with its unique approach to the content creation. Powered by futuristic AI technology, the dynamic, challenging, short-span snackable content has swooped over 800 million users away.

And of course Instagram that unites both the content creation and technology. With its original intent of being the platform to feature and share photos Instagram has made a major leap into the adaptation of AR technology starting from enhancement and overlay of effects, to filters interacting with music and elements of the world. The launch of Instagram SparkAR studio in 2018 has been a paramount gamechanger in the industry, bringing together a vast community of talented developers, artists, and designers to share their creations with the world. With its biweekly updates to technology and features SparkAR has been pushing the boundaries of mobile Augmented Reality, becoming the platform that delivers immersive experiences to the diverse community of social media users. 

With SparkAR being the creative HUB across Facebook’s family apps, it is no surprise SparkAR creators were invited to try their hand at creating the perfect effect for the newly launched Instagram Reels. Facebook, known for challenging the technological status quo, has been leading annual Hackathons since their first official launch in 2007, which have now become a great event that brings together experts from all industries to take on the challenge and work out the most creative, unique and technologically advanced solutions. Hundreds of developers, engineers, designers and marketers put their heads together to showcase their talents and compete with thousands of teams and individual participants. 

We couldn’t miss this chance to challenge our creativity and took part in the recent Facebook AR Hackathon for Instagram Reels and showcasing the Lucid Dynamics effect. This effect was created to highlight the new feature of Instagram Reels that enables users to create 15 second AR enhanced content with one tap. Lucid Dynamics is a series of rotating montages that start with the user pressing the record button which activates a rotation of Instagram effects that as a result create an edited video. By pressing one button the user can put together their favorite music and the editing effect, making it both easy and fun to try out the new Instagram Reels feature.

Lucid Reality Labs Creative Director - Kris Masera
We were inspired mostly by the music and commercial making industry, the marvel of editing that can make any activity look captivating and visually stunning when combining the right shot with the right sequence, timing and sound.

The main aim was to create a dynamic bridge between different effects that can inspire users to create and share their own short content with others, without needing the editing skills and hours of trying to find the right combination of filters that work best together. The ambition was to create an effect that users would find engaging and would feel inspired to use, inviting them to try out more dynamic and bold content to express themselves. The effect was built using Spark AR, 3D objects, javascript, face tracking, segmentation and render pass. We also used the picker UI, UI sliders, light staging, 3D object animation, material setting and logics building.

Lucid Dynamics effect is the first step towards the creation of a series of ultimate filters, based on the body tracking or its simulation that can bring real-time editing and content creation to the next level for influencers, brands and people that want to share their own form of dynamic short-form creative performances.

Evolution of social media triggered by dynamic competition and advancement of technology has opened new doors for content creation, with endless possibilities to express oneself and creative ideas, and it is only the beginning. 

Lucid Reality Labs CMO Anfisa Dzjuba
AR technology race for the most dynamic, engaging and creative content is on.