Apple’s first big push in to Augmented Reality

During this year’s World Wide Developers Conference, held on 5th June 2017, Apple has announced its entrance in to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Apple has launched Augmented Reality Developer toolkit for iOS known as ARKit. Apple also unveiled that it is planning to bring support for VR headsets to future Macs.

There has been a lot of buzz about Augmented Reality in recent keynotes especially from the likes of Google and Facebook. Every tech giant believes that AR is the future of technology. The tech community has agreed that we are at least 5 years away from developing efficient and realistic AR Glasses due to technological constraints.

Considering the fact these companies want to build recognition of AR among the customers and developers through smart phones. Google’s Tango and recent developments of Facebook regarding AR are ways to provide development experience to engineers before the mighty era of AR Glasses. AR smart phone apps can give customers an opportunity to familiarize with the flavor of Augmented Reality. One such example of a smart phone application is the Pokemon-Go that gained temporary attention of billions of users around the world last year. The ARKit by apple is also an attempt to plant seeds for future AR Glasses.

ARkit leverages the iPhone motion sensors and cameras allowing developers to superimpose virtual elements on to a real world object. The good thing is using ARKit developers will be able to create AR apps that will work with the existing iPhones. This means integration of any extra hardware with the current iPhone devices is not required. This is a huge improvement over Google’s Tango API that requires phone manufactures to integrate Tango-Compatible hardware to make it work. More interestingly the ARKit supports various exciting features including,

  • Estimation of real world lighting to give real-world look to virtual objects
  • More accurate surface tracking and virtual object placement
  • Fast and stable motion tracking
  • Ambient Lighting estimation of virtual light source
  • Scale Estimation
  • Support for Unity, Unreal, SceneKit

A demo of augmenting a virtual coffee cup and a lamp over a table was shown during WWDC conference. Better placement of a virtual Pokemon character over a real ground using ARKit was also shown. The creature looked as though was actually sitting on the ground in front of the user. Similarly a game scenario was augmented over a table surface to show how ARKit can be used make AR Games.

The upshot is that Apple’s entrance into the AR industry will make iOS devices the largest AR platform in the world. At the WWDC Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said,

“When you bring the software together with these devices, we actually have hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads that are going to be capable of AR”.

Apple users will start experiencing AR apps when the iOS 11 will roll out later this year.

Sources:

CNBC, AppleInsider, BusinessInsider, The Verge, Entrepreneur, UploadVR, NewAtlas


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