Facebook is Spending a Lot of Time and Money on Augmented Reality

(Artist Heather Day's augmented-reality art installation on Facebook's campus)

What started in 2016 as a single Facebook employee test unit has turned into a team of 60. Augmented Reality is the new thing. People may be pushing VR at you left and right, but as with the Microsoft Hololens, there's a way to present something epic in your reality to you and still be able to interact with it artificially.

Facebooks "AI camera" unit takes advantage of the data it's 2 billion users across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger cameras provide. This new AI Camera unit includes people like Rick Szeliski and Michael Cohen who worked on Photosynth at Microsoft. The AI Camera team also can draw on the expertise of top neural-network researchers like Yann LeCun and Yangqing Jia in other parts of the company.

No one is really sure how to capitalize on VR or Augmented reality yet. But when you see it used like in this next Gif you can get an idea of where it's heading.

(augmented reality art, by Heather Day)

ALEXIS C. MADRIGAL writes in the Atlantic:

"On one of the many decks at Facebook's Menlo Park campus, overlooking the mudflats of the south Bay, there's a nondescript corner. Pipes run along it. A surveillance camera sits on the east-facing wall. To the naked eye, there's nothing to distinguish it from the hundreds of others that help form Facebook's gargantuan ark.
However, pull out a phone loaded with an app Facebook has in development and point it at the wall, and you get a beautiful piece of art, created primarily by Heather Day, a San Francisco artist. It made a brief appearance during Mark Zuckerberg's keynote at the company's F8 conference.
Brilliant blues, cyans, teals drip from the pipes, pooling away from the wall. It's cool, this thing hanging in the air.
Put the app away, open it back up and point it at the corner again, and the art is back. Move around it, move through it, and the ghostly remains of Day's paint strokes and pours remain there. What if there were thousands of things like this all over the world? Next to burrito recommendations and Strava segment records and pictures of your friends, mugging for the camera, in situ.
This is one vision for augmented reality, the name for this layering of digital information on top of imagery of the physical world. AR has gotten a big push in recent months by Apple's announcement of ARKit, a framework for developers to enable AR in apps. They've been showing it off, and Google recently announced a similar (though not as widely lauded) set of tools called ARCore."
This view of things opens up a world of possibilities beyond seeing a meteor crash into your family photos. This is a practical use. If they use geo-tags and accelerometers to automatically map the real world surroundings of a certain place. They can have Augmented exhibits that anyone can see just by holding up their phone. The beauty of it being mapped is that EVERYONE will see the same thing in the same spot. It will be like that vision or installation actually exists in a physical location as paint or a monkey will only hang off a specific railing.

Imagine hiring an architect to remodel your dream home and instead of looking at a computer or tablet, you can walk through the new space before it's built and see how it's going to be transformed. This allows you to make subtle changes that you might miss if it was just conceptual on the screen.

For the full story please check out the truly interesting piece over at the Atlantic.