Facebook’s Portal adds Harry Potter AR experience to devices in the US and UK

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We might not trust them but it’s hard to deny that Facebook’s trying to make a serious go of its Portal range of video communication devices. The newest feature to grace the range of face-watching, information-collecting communication devices from Facebook is the inclusion of Harry Potter-themed augmented reality (AR) functions.

The only downside, besides only being available on a Facebook-owned data-collection device? The feature’s limited to users in the States and the UK.

Portal to another reality

Facebook revealed the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tie-in in a blog post on its website, explaining that Portal users can use the Curtain Call feature on their devices to magically cloth themselves, and up to three others, in Hogwarts robes while on a Portal-to-Portal video call. Which makes sense — why would you want to dress up as Harry Potter for a voice call? Actually, don’t answer that.

In addition, the background can be set to the Hogwarts Great Hall, the Ministry of Magic and the Edge of the Forbidden Forest locations, so your calls no longer show your Muggle-decorated home to others on the call. Twelve AR masks of characters from the Harry Potter player are also available to play with on Facebook’s video devices — and those masks can also be accessed via the Facebook and Instagram mobile app’s camera sections.

The augmented reality features are powered by Facebook’s Spark AR, and it’s gone quite deep into the tech for this release. The company explains, “Callers can fully embody the characters thanks to real-time skin sampling that matches the 3D character to your unique skin tone before converting it into an AR mask for seamless integration.”

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Brett writes for Stuff's digital platform and edits Stuff's print magazine, in between reading science fiction and every Batman comic he can get his hands on.

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