Let’s face it, Facebook isn’t cool anymore. It hasn’t been for quite some time. Your aunt posts Minion memes about Mondays on Facebook, and Facebook knows that’s not cool. But their new technology could be their secret weapon to get renewed attention to their platform from all demographics.
Facebook has been in the virtual reality market ever since they bought Oculus in 2014. But while they have lofty goals concerning VR — founder Mark Zuckerburg states Facebook’s long-term goal is to boast over one billion VR users — there just aren’t that many physical headsets in homes yet. In the mean time, Facebook is taking the lessons learned from the virtual 3D space and applying them to your two-dimensional phones screens.
How does Facebook turn a normal image into a 3D photo? Let’s back up a bit first. Imagine your eyes are cameras. Most of you probably have two eyes. When you focus on a thing, both of your eyes are looking at the same thing, but from a slightly different vantage point as each eye is a couple inches from each other. Your brain puts these two images together and creates a three-dimensional picture of your surroundings. That’s why you can “see” in 3D.
iPhone hardware works in a similar manner. Your iPhone 7+ and newer all actually have two cameras on the back instead of one. Those two “eyes” give your iPhone the ability to create photos with depth. This is where Facebook’s new technology comes in.
If the iPhone’s two cameras are the eyes of this metaphor, then Facebook is the brain. Facebook’s proprietary AI software takes the data gathered from the two cameras and “guesses” what else is around. The result is more like a diorama than a photograph, giving users the ability to zoom, pan, and tilt as if they were looking through a window rather than at a photograph.
Facebook is rolling out the technology as we speak, and has included a list of tips and tricks to level up your multi-dimensional photography skills. “You’ll get the best results if your main subject is three or four feet away,” says Facebook in a press release, “and to really make it pop, try to capture scenes with multiple layers of depth, including something in the foreground and something in the background—like a shot of your family standing in a field of flowers.”
These new features will be viewable from your standard news feed, and with added functionality if accessed through Facebook’s headset VR platform, Facebook360.
Whether this turns out to be the Next Big Thing or just another neat tech niche thing, the ability to effortlessly create 3D still lifes out of standard photographs guarantees The Youths will be hanging around Facebook for at least a little while longer. And guarantees you have yet another way to market to capture attention. Neat!