Starbucks spice things up for this holiday season with a bit of augmented reality joy.
This week, the company launched its first Instagram filter, called Holijoy, delivered as an early Christmas gift and packaged four seasonal lenses.  Each Holijoy augmented reality filter can be launched using one of this year's four real-world limited-edition Starbucks holiday cups.
Launching the filters fills the user's environment with augmented reality greeting cards, various types of virtual snowflakes, speckles, and decorative dots.
Users who want to activate the lenses have an limited edition cup and a mobile device that must navigate to the Starbucks Instagram page. There, users must click on the effect gallery, represented by a smiley icon (this is the third icon on the left, update your Instagram app if you don't see it). Once the filter is open, you will see a video preview of it in action, as well as a button (represented by a camera icon) asking you to "Try it" to start the AR camera experience.
While enjoying AR overlays, including a tiny green Starbucks store, fully decked out for the holidays, users can also take photos and videos of the experience and share them on Instagram.
If that (and Peppermint Mocha) is not enough to motivate you to buy a brew, the new red and white -green dotted cup from Starbucks reusable and can be used to cash in silver refills in stores in the US and Canada. That is a saving of fifty cents each time (and worth every cent with the amount that those drinks go for).
Facebook hurried to spread the news that the coffee giant had chosen Instagram and therefore used its Spark AR Studio platform to develop the experience. The Spark AR portal that allows users to develop augmented reality for Facebook and Instagram was just launched in beta in August to compete with Snapchat's Lens Studio.
This is the first lens that Starbucks has for Instagram developed, but prior to this, Starbucks decorated its cups in AR with its Starbucks Cup Magic experience (see video below). The app contained cute characters who played in sleds around the cup.
In recent years, Starbucks has called on other AR apps to provide clips explaining the coffee process for people taking a tour of the Shanghai monastery. The augmented reality experience was shown in two apps, one of which was produced with technology from the Chinese company Alibaba.
The coffee giant is not alone in its seasonal AR decorations for drinks, because Starbucks joins Coca-Cola, which this year used AR for its iconic look into a snowy castle .
Holidays come and go, but Instagram effects marry Starbucks' efforts for sustainability and its huge chain of points of sale make this a special one that only increases the speed of AR acceptance in the mainstream, while at the same time (almost) environmentally conscious coffee fans is being warmed up.