Facebook teams up with institutions from around the world to create augmented reality lenses on its new Spark platform. The AR features are enabled on Instagram, where users can treat themselves to virtual trips across the globe.
To kick off the travel initiative, Facebook teamed up with Le Grand Palais, the Palace of Versailles, and The Smithsonian to bring fan-favorite cultural landmarks and collections to users around the world. Using the curated AR effects, the institutions can “transport” well known landmarks from France and the U.S. to users’ homes. Users can spin the works of art to get a 360 degree view of each piece and zoom in to get a closer look than may be possible in person. They can also “place” famous pieces anywhere, allowing them to “visit a museum” from wherever they are. For example, users can visit the Smithsonian’s AR effects and place its wooly mammoth skeleton right in front of themselves, allowing them to see it with a “lifesize” view.
The initiative is one of the largest uses of Facebook’s Spark platform, which the tech titan launched a year ago for the purpose of developing AR features. Enabling the effects on Instagram could help Facebook reach a wider audience of users and grow its cross-platform functionalities. The media mammoth also plans to add more effects in the near future through partnerships with limited-time museum exhibitions, like artist Daniel Arsham’s “Time Dilation” experience at Perrotin New York. Doing so could help Facebook build up a long-term venture, while museums and artists could also benefit from increased digital exposure. Additionally, highlighting international landmarks could draw in globetrotters stuck at home and build up their reliance on social media, according to a Gartner report on the topic. With consumer demand for digital entertainment continuing to grow during the Coronavirus pandemic, the virtual adventures could also drive users to spend more time on Facebook and Instagram. The initiative could prove particularly useful to Facebook as it looks to boost its image as a fresh and relevant platform against continually modernized competitors like Snapchat and TikTok.
With its AR functionality, Facebook invites at-home wanderlusters to explore new types of digital entertainment. Using Spark and Instagram, the social media site could boost engagement and set the stage for future cultural partnerships.