SAN JOSE, Calif. — Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has long rued the day that Apple and Google beat him to building smartphones, which now underpin many people’s digital lives. Ever since, he has searched for the next frontier of modern computing and how to be a part of it from the start.
Now, Mr. Zuckerberg is betting he has found it: the real world.
On Tuesday, Mr. Zuckerberg introduced what he positioned as the first mainstream augmented reality platform, a way for people to view and digitally manipulate the physical world around them through the lens of their smartphone cameras.
What that means today is fairly limited. Augmented reality is nascent — people can add simple flourishes on top of their photos or videos, like sticking a pixelated blue beard on a selfie or adding puppy stickers to a photo of the front yard of their house.
But in Mr. Zuckerberg’s telling, there are few boundaries for how this technology will evolve. He said he envisioned a world in which people could eventually point smartphone cameras at a bowl of cereal and have an app create tiny sharks swimming in the milk. Friends can leave virtual notes for one another on the walls outside their favorite restaurants, noting which menu item is the most delicious.