The idea of augmenting reality (AR) has been around for decades, but it’s only recently that it’s become an increasingly mainstream technology with tangible uses, from entertainment to marketing. The tools for building AR experiences are constantly developing – and now platforms such as Spark AR Studio are bringing easy-to-create AR to the social media generation. Here, we take a look at how Spark AR is changing the face of augmented reality.
What is Spark AR?
Spark AR is studio tool from Facebook that allows users to create their own AR effects for mobile. First launched in 2017, Facebook continues to add capabilities to the platform – most recently, adding in analytics for Instagram and Facebook campaigns. Compatible for Mac and Windows, the AR platform is comparable to tools such as Sketch or Photoshop – only this is for augmented reality. Prior to this summer, anyone could use Spark AR Studio to create custom AR effects but if you wanted them to go live on platforms such as Instagram, you had to belong to the beta programme. However, now all AR creators can build their own effects and publish them online through Spark AR Studio.
What can it do?
Spark AR enables you to create your own AR effects for mobile using a suite of tools – from patching to animation. What’s more, you don’t have to be a technical genius, which means it can be a more cost-effective way to create AR experiences compared to building bespoke experiences from scratch. With Spark, we can:
• Create our own AR effects
• Import our own 3D files and sounds
• Build with or without code
With a host of features and learning guides, it’s a really good tool for professional creators like us, as well as personal users. For example, Spark AR enables us to insert our own 3D objects into a project, change their properties and add interactivity, logic and animation. However, if time or budget on a project doesn’t allow for bespoke assets, Spark AR provides a vast range of ready-made 3D objects in the AR library.
Why is this important?
Platforms like Spark AR demonstrate how mixed reality technology is becoming more mainstream – more accessible, useful and fun. Spark AR enables you to create anything from a face filter to interactive AR games, and social media gives it a wide-ranging audience.
Meanwhile, the importance of marketing via social media goes without saying. Instagram has over 500 million daily users and is ever-growing in popularity, with advertisers reporting four times as much engagement on Instagram as Facebook.
Spark AR enables brands to be both more creative and more engaging, while taking advantage of detailed metrics, including total impressions, captures and shares – giving insights into how their audience responds to AR.
We’ve been creating AR experiences for clients for over four years now and tools like Spark are both significant and exciting in that they are bringing AR quickly and easily to the mass market. It shows how the technology is evolving – both in terms of ease and capability, as well as audience and user demographic – meaning AR is naturally becoming more widespread. Spark AR is an efficient and versatile way to create AR experiences and it widens the playing field – giving us more tools for our arsenal when developing augmented reality projects for our clients.
James has over two decades’ experience in highly technical roles – from the main IT agency of the British Government to digital marketing. He’s led development teams in three different agencies, plus worked as a freelance developer and consultant. His love of all things tech led James to co-found Infinite Form in 2015. When he’s not playing with computers, James is usually playing bass.
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