Facebook is testing a way to live broadcast Snapchat-like filters

Facebook’s Cox live-testing at the WSJDLive conference.
Facebook’s Cox live-testing at the WSJDLive conference.
Image: Quartz/Mike Murphy
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Laguna Beach, California

Live on stage at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive conference, Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, whipped out his iPhone, and turned the crowd into a Van Gogh painting.

Cox, along with chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, was explaining how Facebook can continue to grow, given the fact that over 1.7 billion people now use the social network every month. One area they believe has room for growth is Facebook Live, the company’s live-streaming tool that it’s been rolling out over the last year. Cox showed off the new feature that’s being developed, which uses a neural network to transform whatever a camera is seeing into the style of the work of a famous artist.

The feature, which Cox said was just a beta, can match the styles of artists using a technique called style transfer, which has been an area of focus for AI researchers over the last few years. In March, Facebook acquired a company called MSQRD that specializes in bringing this technology to live video, and it seems its work is getting close to being ready for Facebook users to enjoy. Cox didn’t say when these sorts of filters would be available in Facebook Live videos, so for the time being, you’ll have to stick with Snapchat for your live filters, or apps like Prisma for your Van Gogh knock-offs.