The US Tech Giant Shows Off Its Spark AR Engine in a Massive New Partnership
US Social Media firm Facebook has released an augmented reality (AR) experience this week, five years after ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ debuted at London’s West End Palace Theatre in 2016.
The Menlo Park-based firm’s ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Curtain Call’ will use AR to bring the magic of the stage play to family homes exclusively via its Portal hardware.
Facebook also bagged a massive partnership with the Harry Potter franchise, bringing much needed attention to Portal’s AR features.
Potter fans can host Portal-to-Portal video calls at favourite metaverse locations such as the Forbidden Forest, Hogwarts Great Hall, and Ministry of Magic.
Twelve AR ‘masks’ are available to allow fans to become classic Hogwarts characters, and the experience supports up to three friends, improving immersion with peer-to-peer interactive experiences.
The news comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed sales of Portal devices had jumped tenfold and urged an increase in Portal TV supplies to meet spiking demand following the lockdowns.
Responding to increasing consumer demand, Facebook added further support for mainstay social media apps Messenger and Whatsapp, providing the company with a massive user base and space for advertisers to engage with audiences as well as promote brands.
Facebook released the Portal devices in November 2018 and were initially met with underwhelming performance, but the devices have since a home amid ongoing global COVID-19 lockdowns.
The Portal camera uses AR technology to track callers as they walk around a room, and additionally increases immersion and decreases fatigue with Amazon Alexa for hands-free interaction.
The developments come just days after the International Data Corporation (IDC) reported Oculus Quest 2 shipments had grown 52.4 percent in the first fiscal quarter this year.
The figures indicate Facebook aims to become leaders in AR after capturing the virtual reality (VR) market.
The company also integrated new business tools into its in-house Spark AR software development kit (SDK), boosting developer support and improving eCommerce options for brands.
Further Spark AR updates include a Multipeer API to allow developers to deliver coordinated AR experiences across video calls.
From filters to games, the new API features looks to improve immersive interconnectivity.
The ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Curtain Call’ proves to be an excellent way for Facebook to showcase its recent AR hardware and software developments.