XR Talks is a weekly series that features the best presentations and educational videos from the XR universe. It includes embedded video, as well as narrative analysis and top takeaways. 

AR lenses in Instagram… commerce-enabled AR in Messenger… new VR content… and the long-awaited Oculus Go. These were the XR highlights from Facebook’s F8 conference this week, and thus fodder for our weekly XR Talks. Selected clips are peppered bellow, where relevant.

Starting with AR commerce in Messenger, Facebook has brought Camera Effects to the popular messaging platform as a way for brands build AR graphics that spotlight their products. But best of all, playful AR experiences are meant to drive towards real e-commerce transactions.

For example, Nike built an AR podium that unveils the latest shoe release, with 360 degree product visualization that flows right into a transaction thread. This will launch with a handful of closed beta partners like Nike and Sephora, but will open up to more developers soon.

“You can actually walk to the shoe, get up close and personal with it, take photos and videos and share them with your friends,” said Messenger lead David Marcus. “When you’re done and close the camera, you’re back in the experience where you can buy the shoe right then and there.”

This starts to answer the question of how AR will be monetized. In this case it’s a combination of models we’ve examined, including AR advertising, product visualization and direct-response commerce. It will be important to watch as a signal for everyone else vetting AR monetization.

(see video below for time-stamped clip for AR in Messenger)

AR in Instagram… Duh

AR is also expanding in other Facebook products. Camera Effects are now available for developers to create in Instagram, which makes sense. Instagram is actually the most logical place of all Facebook properties for AR selfie lenses and the like (and its latest Snapchat clone).

Connecting several dots, we believe that AR-driven commerce (per the Messenger integration above) is coming to Instagram next. We say that because Facebook quietly announced today that deeper native payments (and thus e-commerce) capability is coming to Instagram.

uSens CTO and co founder Dr Yue Fei believes that the move overall validates and exposes AR, to larger audiences, which is the boost it needs to push it past early adoption. And that goes for developers and startups, as well as users. He reached out to us after the keynote to weigh in:

“Any time a major platform can globally increase user familiarity and comfort with AR features, a spike in buzz and exciting use cases soon follows,” he said. “That benefits everyone… hardware and software engineers, content creators, and game developers. It also benefits consumers…”

(see video below for time-stamped clip on AR in Instagram)

Content is King (So is Price)

On to VR, Facebook announced that the long-awaited Oculus Go is now finally shipping (plus an Oprah moment with free units for everyone in attendance). As we and others have written, Go could jolt VR adoption, given its loss-leader pricing and frictionless VR session launches.

Go is also advantaged by content availability. This gets past some of the chicken and egg challenges and fragmentation issues that have dampened VR adoption. There are 1000 games and apps available for Go, thanks to the existing Oculus-compatible library and head start.

This content advantage was a point of emphasis at F8, including new sources of lean back entertainment (Oculus TV), social interaction (Rooms) and watching live sports (Venues). The latter is interesting in that live sports is a saving grace for broadcasters, so they’re embracing VR.

To do this, Facebook is working with prominent content partners like Hulu, Netflix and NextVR (for live events). These types of content makes sense, given that Go’s lower-end specs make it optimized for lean-back entertainment and casual games, as opposed to heavy gaming.

(see video below for time-stamped clip on Oculus Go and content announcements)

In addition to the time-stamped clips above, the entire keynote is below for those who wish to sit through it. Fair warning, there is lots of fluff. Though many of these XR announcements are impactful, the keynote itself is cringeworthy at times in its saccharine and scripted delivery.

We left a few things out, such as 3D news feed photos and other less-impactful announcements you can see below. You can also see a deeper dive (and less PR-laden approach) in the day 2 keynote from CTO Mike Schroepfer. Though it isn’t embeddable, you can see that here.

For deeper XR data and intelligence, join ARtillry PRO and subscribe to the free ARtillry Weekly newsletter. 

Disclosure: ARtillry has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.