Spark AR is an amazing tool to allow for the creation of augmented reality effects, which can be used with the Facebook or Instagram app camera. Augmented Reality or AR allows for digitally created images and sounds to be superimposed on a real-world camera. This tool can be used for entertainment as well as business purposes. The beauty of the tool is that the effects are available to anyone who has Facebook or Instagram apps installed and does not require a stand-alone app to download. To access the effect there is a library that can be searched or by accessing the user’s account who made it, or by browsing available effects in the camera.

A Spark AR or AR effect can be almost anything you can imagine being superimposed on the camera. From simple objects being placed on a person, such as a hat to sunglasses, to complex interactions that uses logic and interacts with different elements such as the user blinking, smiling, someone tapping the screen, water flowing down the face of someone in the video, virtual objects being placed in a real-life scene, etc. Data from outside the effect can also be loaded into the scene. The system can work with particles, physics, etc. and has different ways that the effects can be controlled. The first way is the virtual environment itself, where different virtual objects can be placed, lighting, face trackers, objects, etc. Then there is the patch-based system where a variety of different parameters can be controlled and linked together to create stunning effects. Finally, the system can be programmed as well using a scripting interface.

Here is a list of some sample ways you could use Spark AR.

  1. Marketing tool for your brand; you create an effect that gets people to engage with your brand on Facebook or Instagram. This is the primary way this effect is used. I.E.  you can have an interesting effect that someone can add to their selfie etc. or you have some virtual objects you would like to display in camera.
  2. You can use it to help sell a physical product by allowing someone using the effect to place it within their environment be it furniture, a modification to the house, change the colours, etc. It could be used in a car showroom or any kind of environment a consumer might want to see how your product looks like. It could be clothes, shoes, furniture, you name it.
  3. You can preview how you look trying on different products i.e. clothing, makeup, and more. You could easily change the style by tapping the screen or blinking for example.
  4. This application can be used purely for fun. Design cool effects for your friends to try out and enjoy their photos.
  5. This app can be used to create simple games within the augmented reality environment. These could be games like Tetris, Space Invaders, etc. that respond to your face movements.
  6. Effects are dynamic and respond to the movement of the camera, the environment, and you!

Typically to create an effect the timeline could be as short as a week, for someone skilled in making them for a simple effect to months, depending on the complexity.

Spark AR effects effectiveness for marketing purposes is measured based on the number of views, camera captures but ultimately the business gained and the audience that engages with the brand. Some effects have views in the millions or even billions of views or captures. Design a really good effect and it will go viral and spread like wildfire as everyone starts using it.

One thing to keep in mind, is if the effect is promotional, it will not be under the browser effects section, unless you search for the name of the effect specifically.

  1. If you want to see Visual Thinkers’ first sample AR effect, we have created a simple test application. If you want to stay looking cool this summer and you have an Instagram account check out these shades by bringing up the camera browsing effects, and searching for “some bomb shades” or going to @DaJayBomb, on your smart device and clicking on the little smiley face with the star to try out and use this effect. Have fun!

If you are interested in discussing an AR project, please fill out our project submission form which is available on every page at the bottomto get the ball rolling.