Delhi-based Hitesh Goyal spends almost two hours daily on an augmented reality (AR) game called Quest on social media platform magicpin to improve his ranking in the leader boards and win prizes. Inspired by Pokémon Go, Quest is an AR game where users can win points by finding characters or treasure chests inside 800,000 partner stores and restaurants in India. They can use the points later on magicpin’s app for various discounts.

AR stickers, AR games, 360-degree videos and stories are being increasingly used on social media platforms, particularly by youngsters, clearly changing the way people engage on social media.

This fact is not lost on companies. Early this month, for instance, Snap Inc. announced new AR-based experiences in Snapchat for creators, partners and users, allowing them to create and add live animations on moving objects, pets and people. This means user can add an interactive AR sticker on a face or object and the sticker will also change as the object will move. Snapchat’s Lens Studio allows anyone to create and publish their AR content on the platform. YouTube, which has lot of social media elements, recently added Snapchat-like AR selfie filters for YouTube Stories.

Facebook is another social network where AR ad campaigns and games are generating a lot of buzz. Facebook Messenger has a few multiplayer AR chat games like Don’t Smile and Asteroids Attack. The former is a staring contest where the first person to grin loses and in the latter, users can navigate a space ship with their face. Facebook has made creating AR content on its platform a lot easier for users by integrating 3D filters from Sketchfab with the AR Studio. It means, users can search 3D models and add them directly in their AR project. Sketchfab has over 1,50,000 3D assets which are available for free download under Creative Commons licensing. Creators can also add music from Facebook’s free audio library.

Also, brands like Shoppers Stop and Lenskart are now trying to connect with their customers using AR experiences on social media platforms like Facebook. “AR helps these guys break the barrier and make their brands standout without using an app, which cuts the cost and time of deployment," says Spriha Neogi, co-founder and chief operating officer at Attero Labs, a Mumbai-based company that has facilitated many of these experiences on Facebook.

Using AR, online sellers can provide that complete experience of the product from where they are. In one of the AR campaigns of a handbag on Facebook, customers could see how big the bag actually was, leaving no room for confusion in their mind, points out Neogi.

In the case of magicpin, players can keep track of gamers in their vicinity as well as those at the top of the leader boards.

Their AR game was built on Google ARCore for Android devices and Apple ARKit for iOS and integrated with Unity. They also use standardized AR technologies from Kudan to project an object in the real world at a certain coordinate.

Being able to build such products which are putting a gamefied layer on top makes them very interesting for users. Creating these fun experiences in a local context opens up a big market that hasn’t been tapped, points out Anshoo Sharma, co-founder and CEO of magicpin.

Neogi points out that the reason why AR initially didn’t take off was because facial recognition platforms in the beginning were not as good as they are now on platforms such as Facebook. Also, the AR filters today look more hyper realistic as they are baked into the skin. Platforms like Facebook have made it easier to optimize the size of the AR content, which makes them more accessible for users.

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