News: Facebook Puts a Spell on Portal Devices & Mobile Apps with Harry Potter AR Experience

Facebook Puts a Spell on Portal Devices & Mobile Apps with Harry Potter AR Experience

Augmented reality technology is often likened to magic powers, so it is fitting that a new AR experience featuring the Harry Potter franchise uses the newest AR tricks from Facebook and its Spark AR platform.

With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child returning to Broadway this fall, Facebook is bringing some magic from the wizarding world to its Portal devices via a new augmented reality experience called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Curtain Call.

The Curtain Call experience, which is accessible through Portal's effects tray, transforms users into characters from the play, with three virtual locations — Hogwarts Great Hall, the Ministry of Magic, and the Edge of the Forbidden Forest — replacing their video backgrounds. In addition, each character comes with a random "magic spell," which is activated with a head nod (or a screen tap on Portals with touchscreens).

Image via Facebook

The Curtain Call effect uses the new Multipeer API for Spark AR, which synchronizes AR effects between multiple participants in video calls.

Also noteworthy, multi-class segmentation enables the experience to sample skin tone in real-time to match virtual masks with their physical beings.

Image by Harry Potter on Stage US/Instagram

Alas, Facebook Portal devices aren't nearly as ubiquitous as smartphones. Luckily, the AR effects are also available via Facebook (iOS | Android) and Instagram (iOS | Android) apps, with Albus Potter and Moaning Myrtle available now. Each effect includes its own magic spell that is triggered by tapping on the screen.

To access the AR effects via Instagram, search for "cursedchildus" in the effects browser or navigate to the Harry Potter on Stage US Instagram page and tap the effects tab.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

Facebook has also added new "choose your own adventure" stories to its Story Time app for Portal, namely Build a Story, where players choose characters, settings, and plot of their adventures, and Extra Ordinary Cafe, which is based around players' menu choices over a multi-course meal.

Image via Facebook

But Harry Potter is the star of the new additions here. Of course, this is not the first time the Harry Potter franchise has made its way into augmented reality.

Most notably, Niantic followed up its hit AR game Pokémon GO with Harry Potter Wizards Unite. Facebook rival Snapchat celebrated Harry Potter's birthday with a Bitmoji AR Lens. And Magic Leap and AT&T joined forces to offer a Fantastic Beasts AR experience for fans in Chicago.

We've even seen a Harry Potter photo printer with AR magic powers. And, as long as tech companies continue to come up with new AR capabilities that rival magic spells, this won't be the last time we are treated to some immersive Harry Potter magic.

Cover image via Facebook

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