Facebook’s Portal device, which offers video chatting and an Amazon Alexa-powered digital assistant, might feel like the odd item out in the company’s AR/VR product division, where it is housed. But news from the company on Wednesday suggests Facebook is doubling down on Portal as another way to get more people using AR.
The strategy? Use a big brand—Harry Potter, in this case—as fuel for flashy AR that’s not only exclusive to Portal, but that also leverages the latest in Spark AR technology. The result is a Potter-inspired suite of effects based on 2016’s “Cursed Child” play, using AR to let video callers dress up as characters from Hogwarts and cast spells (to promote the Portal experience, a limited set of features are also available as Instagram filters).