Starbucks is spicing things up ahead of this holiday season with a little augmented reality joy.

This week the company launched its first Instagram filter, called Holijoy, delivered like an early Christmas gift and packing 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 surroundings with augmented reality greeting-card phrases, various kinds of virtual snowflakes, speckles, and decorative dots.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

Users wishing to activate the lenses need one limited edition cup and a mobile device that must navigate to Starbucks’ Instagram page. Once there, users need to click on the effect gallery, represented by a smiley face icon (it’s the third icon from the left, if you don’t see it, update your Instagram app). Once the filter is accessed you’ll see a video example of it in action, as well as a button (represented by a camera icon) prompting you to “Try It” to launch the AR camera experience.

While enjoying AR overlays, including a tiny green Starbucks shop, fully decked-out for the holidays, users can also capture photos or videos of the experience and share them on Instagram.

Image via Starbucks

If that (and Peppermint Mocha) isn’t enough to motivate you to buy a brew, Starbucks’ new red-and-green dotted cup is reusable and can be used to cash in on discounted refills at shops in the US and Canada. That’s a savings of fifty cents each time (and worth every penny with the amount those beverages go for).

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Facebook rushed to spread the news that the coffee giant had picked Instagram and thus used its Spark AR Studio platform to develop the experience. The Spark AR portal that lets users develop augmented reality for Facebook and Instagram just launched in beta in August to rival to Snapchat’s Lens Studio.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

This is the first such lens Starbucks has developed for Instagram, but prior to this, Starbucks festooned its cups in AR with its Starbucks Cup Magic experience (see video below). The app featured cute characters playing around the cup in sleds.

Starbucks has in recent years called on other AR apps to deliver clips explaining its coffee-making process for people on tours of its roastery in Shanghai. That augmented reality experience was featured in two apps, one of which was produced with technology from the Chinese company Alibaba.

A demo of the Starbucks Cup Magic app from 2011.





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