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Facebook takes Augmented Reality mainstream and doubles down on Messenger Bots

Facebook takes Augmented Reality mainstream and doubles down on Messenger Bots

 
Object recognition, Facebook's refined ability to know what you're pointing your camera at

Object recognition, Facebook's refined ability to know what you're pointing your camera at

Yesterday Facebook announced major platform updates in Messenger, and a new Augmented Reality platform that both have great significance to media, entertainment and sports. 

 

Camera Effects: making AR mainstream?

AR has been exciting for a long time, but there has only been one Pokemon Go - a transitory but seductive view of the future. Now, via a free Facebook tool called AR Studio (currently in closed beta), third parties will be able to create their own Camera Effects. Using a technique called SLAM, the new camera feature found in Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp will be able to detect surfaces and objects; allowing us to 'project' masks, animations, live sports scores, fantasy scores and other data into the virtual world. No headset or special glasses needed. 

Information Overlays, virtual objects for gaming and enhancing real-world objects such as buildings. 

Information Overlays, virtual objects for gaming and enhancing real-world objects such as buildings. 

AR Studio is a 3D tool that will be familiar to users of Unity or Unreal. It supports standard sharing of ephemeral video segments within Stories, and integrates with Facebook Live. Support in the various apps will roll out over the coming months. 

Open to developers and creatives

There are AR toolkits out there already and some of this has been possible before. However, it wasn't built into the world's biggest social network(s), and it wasn't an open platform. Now it's both, and that's a game changer. Snapchat's new lenses will deliver very high quality mixed reality and no doubt provide further inspiration to Facebook much larger machine. Read Facebook's full blog post on the new AR features here.

Take-away: Facebook, if they succeed, will make Augmented Reality mainstream, and with it a host of new creative entertainment and sports possibilities

 

Messenger Platform 2.0 - Fixing Discovery

Building on the growth of Messenger, now with 1.2 billion active users globally, a raft of new features focus on making the platform a better place for businesses of all kinds to engage with consumers.

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The inclusion of a new 'Discover' section in Messenger should solve one of the major challenges with bots - how to discover them. It's basically the Bot Store. Facebook is serious about providing businesses with ways to transact with consumers.

There will also be a new Games tab, with turn-based games getting some focus, and also a new way to scan Facebook's variant on QR codes - with a much better looking visual icon and an app that most people already have, maybe there's life in that old idea yet. 

Take-away: There is now a Bot Store, making it easier to get your bot used, and QR codes may have risen from the dead

Group chat bots - turn groups of fans into customers

A welcome feature for many, bots can now provide input into any conversation using a feature called Chat Extensions. Basically you can bring people together around a task or shared experience - like watching sports or booking tickets, or competing in a game. Or, as we think, doing more than one of those things at a time.

Booking travel in chat groups

Booking travel in chat groups

Whats exciting about this is converging entertainment and commerce. Play and interact together, then buy. For those who want to convert passionate fans into customers, to sell tickets for example, we believe this offers an new opportunity to develop both communities and sales. 

Take-away: group chat is good for businesses that want to make collective purchasing more seamless

 

BBC Earth reconnects audiences with nature through new bot for Facebook Messenger with personalised video montages

 
‘Real Happy Moments’ is a groundbreaking bot for Messenger which serves up individually tailored video montages
 
We’re excited to partner with a leader in digital innovation like Monterosa, so that our fans can – for the first time – create personalised moments of Real Happiness and share them online
— Alex Ayling, Head of Digital Studios, BBC Worldwide

BBC Earth reconnects audiences with nature through new bot for Facebook Messenger with personalised video montages

‘Real Happy Moments’ bot to draw on BBC’s natural history archive, delivering clips to nature lovers globally

We're very pleased to announce that BBC Earth, the BBC’s global factual brand, has partnered with Monterosa to deliver ‘Real Happy Moments’, a groundbreaking bot for Messenger which serves up individually tailored video montages for natural history lovers globally.

We've delivered the solution based on our pioneering new FanBot™ product, which taps into Messenger’s growing user base of more than a billion monthly active users. Running on Monterosa’s award-winning interaction platform LViS, FanBot is made for large scale usage, working simultaneously across territories. In addition to personalised video, it has the ability to entertain audiences with live interactivity including voting, ratings and predictions based on user preferences.

For the BBC Earth solution, the Bot asks users a short series of questions, creating a personalised Happiness Profile. It then correlates those user preferences with BBC archive footage to produce individual Real Happy Moments: personalised, sharable montages with scenes selected using intelligent tag matching. Available through Messenger at any time of the week, based on their specific preferences.

Each video clip contains the name and Facebook profile picture of the user. Deploying machine learning techniques, the Bot uses feedback via emojis to improve the algorithm. It comes just as American audiences are tuning into Planet Earth II, which premiered on BBC America in February and forms part of BBC Earth’s Real Happiness Project.

Bots for Messenger are growing in popularity as a convenient, conversational way for companies to communicate and serve content to consumers, and this is the first time a broadcaster has utilised archive footage and smart automated editing to create content for each user individually.

In order to start a ‘chat’ with BBC Earth, Facebook users simply need to follow the link, tap the Message button on the official Facebook page, or to search Messenger for bbcearth.

Alex Ayling, Head of Digital Studios, BBC Worldwide said “We’re always looking at new and innovative ways to bring BBC Earth’s vast archive of incredible natural history content to our audiences around the world. We’re excited to partner with a leader in digital innovation like Monterosa, so that our fans can – for the first time – create personalised moments of Real Happiness and share them online to give even more people a chance to enjoy their uplifting effect.

Tom McDonnell, CEO, Monterosa: “Personalisation, short-form video and bots are three of the hottest topics in entertainment. We’re thrilled to partner with the BBC to break new ground with the launch of FanBot, utilising the growing Messenger platform as a new channel for video and the BBC’s amazing natural history footage.”

Monterosa is an existing Facebook Media Solutions partner.

Start your chat with Real Happy Moments here