Facebook's AR camera effects platform comes to Instagram

Facebook Messenger will automatically translate conversations.                  Facebook

Facebook Messenger will automatically translate conversations. Facebook

We see hints of that at Facebook's event today, where the company introduced M Translations, an AI-powered tool that automatically translates languages into the user's default language. The social media giant said that the new features would deepen connections between people and businesses. Once a business interacts with a person on Messenger, the business can prompt the user to open the Facebook camera, which will be pre-populated with brand-specific filters and AR effects. At launch, translations from English to Spanish (and vice-versa) will be available in Marketplace conversations taking place in the US.

At launch, the following brands will be launching AR effects for their Messenger experiences: ASUS, Kia, Nike, and Sephora. With Asus, you'll be able to get a deeper look at a phone's features, while Kia allows you to better see how the Kia Stinger looks up close, and even customize the car's features.

Perhaps the most important new feature is augmented reality in Messenger - and it could seriously bring AR to the masses. The feature will be rolled out in the United States gradually over the coming weeks, and Facebook will continue to add languages and countries. Nike is using Messenger to drop a new pair of sneakers, giving people an exclusive sneak peek at them through a curated and visual red carpet experience.

Facebook also announced that it is updating its AR creation software AR Studio. Users can use augmented reality lenses and effects while sharing photos, videos and stories.

What's the point? David Marcus, vice president of Messenger, said in a blog post that with many products, people need to "visualize a product... without ever having to set foot in a store" - though he doesn't mention a little company up in Seattle that has done pretty well selling stuff online without AR or a messaging app. It also includes semantic scene understanding to create experiences that are contextually aware, such as adding heat waves to the top of a real-world coffee cup. It's launching now in closed beta on Instagram and Messenger and is coming soon to Facebook Lite.

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