Facebook has launched a new set of themed visuals for its Portal device based on the characters and setting from the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which also includes some new AR elements designed to improve the selection of digital effects and better match each user’s preferences.
Facebook Adds New Harry Potter AR Features:
The “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Under the Curse” experience allows you and three friends to reincarnate as characters from the play and bring the magic of the stage performance to life during video calls from portal to portal. In addition to the Curtain Call, you can chat with friends in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic, and the edge of the Forbidden Forest during video calls or take videos to share using the Portal Photo Booth app.”
Facebook has also added a number of AR masks depicting characters from the play that can be used on Instagram and Facebook in addition to Portal’s exclusive tools.
As noted, Facebook has also built a new element into these new AR features to improve customization.
“Users can fully embody characters through real-time skin sampling that matches a 3D character with your unique skin tone before transforming it into an AR mask for seamless integration. And this is one of the first times we’ve combined people’s AR effects on different screens in a collaborative, multi-faceted environment where everyone can experience AR effects simultaneously.”
The addition of skin tone sampling is an interesting update that could help improve the inclusivity of Facebook’s AR options.
In some ways, it’s similar to the way Pinterest introduced skin tone-based search qualifiers, which give users more options for finding the right content that matches their physical characteristics. The addition of AR tools is a significant step on this front, and Facebook also notes that this option is available for AR developers to use in their own creations using the Spark AR platform.
On another front, Facebook is also adding new multiple-choice stories to its Story Time library for Portal, providing more ways to increase engagement through the video calling device.
Despite initial reservations about having a Facebook-connected camera in your home, sales of Facebook’s Portal video calling device have skyrocketed as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, increasing 10-fold after initial mitigation efforts. Facebook has contributed to this proliferation through initiatives such as giving Portals to nursing homes, making it easier to connect with loved ones, and as a result, more and more people are becoming convinced of the usefulness of this option, which also allows those who work from home to use their home TV for video calling.
Given the value it can provide, the portal has become another area of potential growth and connection for The Social Network. And while such additions are relatively minor, they all contribute to broader adoption of the tool and help strengthen Facebook’s presence in our lives.
From an advertising perspective, it could also open up new opportunities: sponsored features for Portal could be a new offering on Facebook’s horizon.