With the release of iOS 11 in September, Apple has delivered ARKit, which makes the iPhone the largest augmented reality platform in the world. Much like artificial intelligence, people are enthusiastic about AR, and we have yet to realize its true potential beyond fun Snapchat and Instagram filters. As this space matures, we are ready to help you figure out how AR might enhance your products.
Let’s begin with some AR fundamentals. The basic requirement for any AR experience and the defining feature of ARKit is the ability to create and track a correspondence between the real-world space the user inhabits, and a virtual space where you can model visual content. When your app displays that content together with a live camera image, the user experiences augmented reality: the illusion that digital content is part of the physical world.
Some of the mechanics of AR relate directly to 3D programming such as plane detection, hit testing, and light estimation. Others like world tracking and the visual inertial odometer are components that are necessary to drive the AR experience. Combining 3D and tracking technologies gives us augmented reality. Below is a list with more details on each of the supporting components that make AR work:
- Scene understanding allows you to determine features and anchor points for objects through the use of horizontal plane detection.
- Light estimation allows you to integrate objects with similar lighting.
- Feature detection uses the visual inertial odometer to detect features temporally instead of through the use of multiple lenses.
- ARKit has simple integration with Apple libraries such as SceneKit and SpriteKit and other third-party libraries.
There are over 200 million devices compatible with ARKit today, and we expect interaction with AR experiences to enter a heavy growth phase very soon. Here are a few potential markets that may enable you to engage with your target audience through AR.
The future of gaming lies in who can provide the most compelling experience, and an important component of that is the interaction model. Traditional gaming relies on vivid graphics, whereas AR gaming depends on an integration of graphics into the physical world. Games like Pokémon Go bring gamers’ favorite characters to life using AR; however, this is just the beginning. Eventually, I think artificial intelligence will be paired with AR, allowing devices to identify and incorporate factors of the surrounding environment into the experience like wind and temperature.
ARKit Ads & Brand Experience
Rather than engage in the race of ads vs. pop-up blockers, and related advances such as Apple’s newly imposed sanctions on browser cookies, innovative companies will build solutions connected to user experience and interaction with their product. Companies like Blippar use AR by working with several automotive brands to launch mobile banner ads. Think of it like this, a cold call from a salesman will most often result in a fast “no.” However, if you can offer an approach that begins with a sample of the experience that you can provide, or an idea as close to the real experience as possible, then buyers will be able to envision it for themselves and not feel like you’re trying to sell them something.
Distribution & Logistics
Being able to see the lay of the land from an aerial view sounds like an ideal experience, but not everyone can afford that view. However, you can make this view seemingly more accessible to your users with AR by bringing a 3D map into reality and taking your consumer’s experience to a whole new level. Our company executed this for our client, the PGA TOUR to see what we could do with ARKit and 3D golf course models.
Combining Multiple AR Arenas
Some of our clients are sports focused, and what do sports fans care about? Stats. Which basketball player had the most assists in the game? What is that particular golfer’s putting average? Using ARKit’s object motion tracking capabilities, fans can view sports through their mobile devices and see important data overlaid on the players and the playing field. A great example of this is MLB’s ARKit approach.
Not only does coupling AR and Big Data help to keep fans informed during a game, but there are also key AR features that developers can implement to ensure users remain engaged throughout the game’s entirety.
- The players could be made into avatars (i.e. Snapchat) and presented right in front of the user.
- The user can see the entire field, court, etc. from an aerial view
- Ball speed could be calculated as a factor of distance and time and displayed on the screen, along with previous records.
- The distance a ball is moved could be calculated and displayed.
- Broadcast services could stream real-time game data to specific sports apps and potentially display that information above players’ heads.
The sooner AR innovators get in the game, the sooner AR will give fans another reason to cheer.
In an article about AR, it would be hard not to talk about ARKit’s new competitor, ARCore. Google recently introduced ARCore, and it functions similarly to ARKit when talking about feature detection, light estimation, and plane detection. ARCore is only available on flagship Android phones, and so far, Apple has a larger market of supported phones. The main shortfall of ARCore is that there is no default integrated renderer, whereas ARKit has SceneKit available out of the box. Android apps using ARCore will need to import a similar library which will increase the APK size.
Today, POSSIBLE Mobile is working with clients on compelling use cases for AR. Years from now, we’ll find it difficult to imagine how we lived without it — like any other piece of technology that we now take for granted. Want to explore if your brand should implement an AR strategy? Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our expert strategists will be in touch.
Ayanna is a Software Developer at POSSIBLE Mobile Mobile, a leading mobile development agency. She graduated from Emory University in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science .