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Instagram users now able to create their own augmented face filters

Natasha Bernal
Instagram will offer users augmented reality effects on its app  - Instagram

Instagram users will be able to create and publish augmented reality effects on photos and videos for the first time from Wednesday, the social media site has announced. 

An update to the Instagram app will allow users to create their own virtual effects, such as animations and custom face filters, that can be superimposed on their own images and videos. 

Instagram will use technology from augmented reality company Spark AR, owned by parent company Facebook, to offer the new features. 

Spark AR, previously called Camera Effects, launched in 2017 and has access to over 1.5 billion people on Facebook.

Its tie-up with the Instagram platform has been touted since last year, and the technology has already been trialled by high-profile users including Kylie Jenner, NBA, Ariana Grande, and Gucci in an early closed beta test. 

Augmented reality is already offered on Facebook's Messenger app, and is used by brands on people's Facebook news-feeds to show off products. 

Pre-made filters and effects have been available on Instagram for some time and allowed the app to compete against instant messaging app Snapchat, but this is the first time that all users can create animation of their own. 

This is the social media site's first foray into augmented reality, a market that is currently worth $16.8bn and is expected to expand drastically in the coming years, with forecasts for 2023 eclipsing $160bn.

It is growing increasingly popular in mainstream apps and software as Silicon Valley giants make multi-million investments in the technologies. 

Last week, Google announced plans to introduce augmented reality in its map app, which will involve AR-generated arrows appearing on a real-world screen to direct users as they walk.

Facebook launched its Oculus Go virtual reality headset in May of this year, while Apple has rolled out augmented reality platforms for developers to create their own AR apps.