If you are into data-driven journalism, you have probably come across the NYT’s You Draw It series, where users have to draw the second half of a graph and thus interact with a data story. We have always liked this idea. And we thought that by adding augmented reality (AR) and Instagram face filters, we could develop it further. Our aim: Creating a new worthwhile form of interactive journalism — and great shareable content. Here is a quick recap of our Instagram experiments, including the lessons we have learned.
When we heard about the possibility to create our own AR face filters with Facebook’s Spark AR Studio, we started a project called You Draw It AR, together with colleagues from DW News, DW Data, and other DW departments. This was also another great opportunity to explore data-driven journalism on social media as part of our EDJNet project.
Why face filters?
According to Instagram, more than 500 million people actively use Instagram Stories every day. Face filters which can be embedded in stories therefore have the potential to reach a lot of users. They are arguably the most popular form of AR applications at present.
How does it work?
So how could we adopt the NYT’s You Draw It idea for Instagram face filters? Instead of movements of a user’s pointing device, we decided to make use of head or mouth movements, as well as other facial expressions, which also allowed users to control a chart. Once they use the face filter and submit an estimate, their input is automatically compared to the actual result. Users can then post the result as part of their own Instagram story.
Our First AR Instagram Story
After a lot of debates and a couple of technical glitches — we will get to that in a moment — our first “filter feature” was published via DW’s flagship Instagram channel @dwnews in December 2020 (Human Rights Month). The story invites users to guess the minimum wage in different countries around the globe.
You can check it out by following this link: You Draw It (AR): Minimum Wage
Please note the story will only work if you are viewing it on a mobile device. In case you are reading this post right here on a desktop computer, please switch to your phone or tablet.
Alternatively, you can learn more about the story and its mechanics in this video: