Facebook’s AR play is more important than you think for Churches

At this years F8 conference Facebook unveilled their Camera Effects Platform which is their AR (Augmented Reality) strategy for the future and its importance should not be underplayed.

When I first listened to the speach I must admit I was guilty of thinking ‘so what…I already have Snapchat if I want to add overlays to my photos’ but, as I reflected upon it, I realized that this is a much bigger deal than it first appears…especially for the Church

I’ve already written about why AR will win out against VR, but when looking at where Facebook is putting its money, a great place to start to break this down is by looking at the three categories of AR, CEO Mark Zuckerberg defined in his speach. These were:

  • Information — Adding information atop the real world (e.g., directions over the street in front of you)
  • Digital Objects — Adding digital objects onto the real world (e.g., a virtual post-it note on the fridge)
  • Enhancement — Enhancing real objects with reviews, novelty filters, edits, etc.

Let’s deep dive into each of these and consider how the technology could be applied to the Church

Information

This is a very exciting area of AR and there are just so many different applications to it at church. Here is a sample of a few I can think of:

  • People can find our events through directions that take them turn by turn to our door
  • Our buildings can trigger events that help visitors find their way around whilst giving them useful information
  • Prayer requests come as part of an ‘in the moment’ news stream
  • Song lyrics can be seen by all (not just those who can see the screen)
  • We can have scripture in front of us at all times
  • Real time translations or subtitles
  • In the moment background checks to protect our vulnerable children or adults

I am sure you can think of even more and the future is exciting, but we are only scratching the surface…

Digital Objects

Not disimilar to Information, this category of AR could be hugley beneficial. If you watch the full video of the F8 announcement, they are showing chess pieces etc which gives you an idea of what this means, but again here is a list of possible ways I can see it being used in Church

  • Scripture can be everywhere
  • Walls could be interactive with pictures of those we are praying for
  • Outreach events could be easily seen on AR devices indicating that something is happening
  • Sermons and teaching could come alive with virutal props, backgrounds or even prizes!

This may all sound a little fake and it is, but dont underestimate the power of being able to see something to help us make a connection…its powerful stuff!

Enhancement

Of course the temptation here would be to add a moustache and glasses to your pastor, but enhancements can be a whole lot more impactful if you think a little more creatively.

  • Facial recognition — useful, if like me, you are next to useless with names
  • Sentiment analysis — scan a person, or a group of people to analyze body language, micro-expressions, language, and behavior. Get real-time feedback on how that person or group appears to be feeling or reacting, and adjust accordingly. Imagine how useful this could be leading a group or even during a sermon!
  • Additional learning data on topics during a bible study
  • In the moment training as part of your volunteering culture
  • Teleprompters for the speakers or masters of ceremonies

The list goes on and on, but we are living in a very exciting time and it is going to take a new generation of tech savvie Christians to take the lead and create a spearpoint to take advantage of this revolution in technology that is ahead of us.

What other applications of AR can you think of for Church?