Last month, Apple released a developer SDK to create augmented reality experiences at their annual WWDC conference hosted in San Jose. While most engineers were expecting the cyclical operating system upgrades, everyone was pleasantly surprised with ARKit and their slick live demo on stage. Augmented reality (AR) will soon be rolled out worldwide to a user base with no real expectations or past experiences. Apple instantly equipped millions of users since iOS devices with an A9 or A10 chip (iPhone 6s and onwards) are compatible with the new AR software shipping with iOS 11.
I started thinking… what could be done with ARKit?
My first reaction to augmented reality was incorporating it into future and existing iOS games. A gamer could interact with their fictional world in real-time. Leveraging the real world in a game can make it all the more dynamic. Games on iOS can now utilize location, time, 3d position, accelerometer, virtual reality, and more to create a unique and enthralling experience for gamers.
ARKit Interdimensional portal — Source: Twitter @nedd
The video shows the insane potential that ARKit has with its incredible object tracking, plane recognition, and light sensing. Objects in ARKit stay at the same position, adhere to the plane's orientation, and blend in with the surrounding lighting to create a natural look and feel. ARKit is only in version one and has a long way to go, but it is performing well on its initial release.
However, while it is nice to be able to overlay the world with a virtual world, an obvious problem is that the phone needs to be moved to experience the whole virtual world. Unless there is an omnidirectional treadmill, the user is still limited to the physical worlds boundaries in the virtual world.
Augmented reality also can be harnessed in the education sector to enhance students learning experiences. Over the past few years, many textbook publishers have shipped their textbooks with online reference material in the form of interactive websites. While their websites are usually outdated, they are a step up from the lifeless text and pictures. A web page allows animations that aren’t possible on printed pages. I expect, in the near future, that these web pages will be converted to augmented reality experiences with resizeable, 3d virtual objects that students can pan, zoom, and interact with.
Imagine having a life size human body and being able to zoom, pan, and change views such as muscles, organs, nerves, and more. I am very jealous of younger students and their future learning possibilities.
Adding virtual objects to the real world can be used to display extra information about places, people, or things. Imagine an assistant application that shows ratings, menu, and hours on the front door of restaurants, shops, and stores. One of the first videos featuring ARKit uses world object tracking to measure the distance between two virtual objects to emulate a ruler.
Source: LannLabs — https://youtu.be/z7DYC_zbZCM
The possibilities are endless with the world being the canvas. Whether that is placing life size IKEA furniture in a room, drawing in the air, or designing cities, augmented reality supports it all.
Source: LaanLabs — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTHaEg-bnaU
Augmented reality is one of those things you don’t think you need until you see it and interact with it. I installed the iOS 11 Beta to get my hands on it early and it is truly remarkable. Watching videos is one thing, but actually experiencing it real time on your device is an eye opener. I cannot wait for future upgrades to the software and hardware to allow for more richer experiences. Lastly, I’m excited for the future of AR since tons of smart developers are jumping in and demoing various projects with endless potential that will hopefully soon be available on the App Store!
** To learn more: there are a ton of great AR examples on the curated ARKit website: MadeWithARKit. Not affiliated or endorsed by Apple in any way. **