With your photos, Facebook wants to reconstruct memories in virtual reality

With your photos, Facebook wants to reconstruct memories in virtual reality

The company presented an innovation worthy of a science fiction film: reconstructing past situations in 3D from photos and videos posted on its social network.

The pensine, this magical container of memories from the Harry Potter saga, could well become reality. This is in any case one of the goals posted by Facebook at its developer conference F8. Rachel Rubin Franklin, Facebook’s director of “social virtual reality”, who previously participated in the development of the PC game “The Sims”, announced the upcoming release of the VR Memories application there. The latter, in an experimental phase, reconstructs the environment around your photos and videos published on Facebook in order to relive your memories. In a statement, Facebook gives the objective of its approach: “We believe that in the future, people will be able to use this technology to revisit moments and places that matter to them, with people they care about”.

The algorithm behind this new application works on a rather simple principle. He scans all the media captured in the same place on different dates: the photos of the birthday of the little one, the match party five years ago, the video of a joke from a friend or the dog running around the house. Facebook then wants to position each memory in a 3D virtual space. As can be seen in the presentation video above, the program places dots around the memory to recreate an environment, like a painting by Georges Seurat. Facebook explains that it uses the technique of photogrammetry: the software generates a three-dimensional vision from shots taken from different points of view.

An unreal-looking virtual reality

Tested by Nicole Lee, a journalist from the Engadget website, the demonstration process is illustrated by its unreal appearance. The young woman says she has “entered a world of pointillist art”. According to her, “the fuzzy nature of 3D space evokes memory. After all, people do not dream in HD”. She points out, for example, that when she moves around the virtual world, the dots move to build the walls around her. The parallel with the dystopian series Black Mirror was quickly made by Internet users. During its presentation, the application worried some users by its intrusive side. The choice of this announcement may also surprise while Facebook has postponed the presentation of its connected speakers to avoid this concern. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the trust of a part of users has collapsed. Indeed, researchers at the Ponemon Institute have observed a 66% drop in the number of Americans who believe Facebook is committed to protecting their privacy.

Facebook also took advantage of the F8 to present the second edition of its Oculus Go virtual reality headset. It will be marketed for an amount of about 220 euros. Instagram Facebook The social network has been believing in the democratization of this technology for some time and is also developing augmented reality tools for its Messenger, Instagram and Facebook applications.

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