Google’s video-sharing platform YouTube now lets creators add augmented reality (AR) selfie filters to their YouTube Stories, per a blog post. Google updated ARCore, its software development kit for AR experiences, with an Augmented Faces API that lets creators add animated masks, glasses, 3D hats and other digital overlays to their selfies.
Google said its machine learning (ML) technology doesn’t require a dedicated depth scanner, as found in some smartphone models, to create a detailed model of a person’s face. Instead, the technology can create a 3D image from a single camera and track movements and facial expressions more accurately to create a 3D mesh.
YouTube creators — who generally must have at least 10,000 subscribers — are the first people to have access to the AR filters. The video platform last year expanded YouTube Stories — which consist of mobile-only videos that disappear after a week – to creators, per CNet.
AR face filters have been a fixture on Snapchat for years, giving brands the chance to offer mobile users an interactive experience they can share with friends, family and followers. Google’s YouTube is getting on board with AR filters by letting its creator community experiment with the feature to add digital imagery to their Stories, another Snapchat innovation that other social media platforms have copied. While YouTube's latest AR tech is limited to its creator community, Google's ARCore SDK and ML Kit Face Contour Detection API are available to all software developers. That means ad agencies and mobile marketers with software development teams can create AR experiences for smartphone users. Examples include virtual try-on’s of makeup, hair coloring and fashion accessories like hats, glasses and jewelry.
By developing an AR technology that doesn’t require a 3D depth scanner, Google is taking aim at Apple’s rival mobile operating system. Apple first added depth scanning hardware to the iPhone X in 2017 to power its FaceID security feature and animojis. Because most Android-based phones don’t have a depth scanner, Google’s technology has the potential to reach a wider group of mobile users whose phones only have a single rear-facing camera. The latest ARCore SDK also will give app developers a chance to improve the AR features in their apps and make the digital images look more realistic, as Google notes in its blog.
Dior, Adidas and Warby Parker are among the fashion brands that have used AR selfies to let mobile users interact with their merchandise, while many major cosmetic brands have offered virtual try-on's of lipstick, eye shadow and blush. The demonstrations help shoppers to better evaluate products before making a purchase and to reduce product returns, according to Perfect, a developer of AR beauty technology. The more realistic renditions of AR imagery that Google promises likely will help marketers create more effective demonstrations of their products.