Will Apple Succeed in Making Augmented Reality More Commercially Adoptable?

Apple has finally announced their new augmented reality framework for developers during their annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. The AR tool in question i3s called ARKit and it allows app developers to draw on both sensor and camera data in order to map virtual objects and overlay them into 3D space. This allows them to surpass the simple 2D overlays without the need for heavyweight software often associated with the more complex tools such as SnapChat’s world lenses.

Even if the technology flaps on its stomach, Apple has at least made Pokémon catching a lot more immersive. However, ARKit can prove itself to be a trump card Apple can use to compete against the tech giant – Google, which has set a rather high standard when it comes to phone-based AR efforts. If Apple plays its cards right, the AR tools can further be used to set up the stage and prepare its users for the subsequent launch of AR glasses, as well as VR-related tech.

Apple’s world racking  

ARKit relies heavily on visual-inertial odometry to create a connection between the real world and digital content. Using the iPad’s or iPhone’s motion and camera sensor, ARKit is able to recognize specific features in the environment and it carefully tracks them while you’re moving your phone. This particular technique doesn’t generate a 3D model of the surroundings; however, it can pin specific objects to specific points and realistically change and manipulate their scale and the perspective through which these objects are being viewed. Additionally, visual-inertial odometry can also be used to identify flat surfaces, allowing its users to place various digital objects on surfaces such as floors and tables.

Why AR?

According to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, both augmented and virtual reality are very interesting. That said, he has stated that augmented reality is simply far larger than virtual reality, as it provides users with the capability to be present in the real world and interact with other human beings while still experiencing an enhanced version their immediate surroundings. Virtual reality, on the other hand, completely immerses the users into a computer-generated world, cutting them completely off from the real world.

Are there any other companies following suit?

Apple is far from being the only company, let alone the first one, to dabble with the concept of augmented reality. Google has already put out an AR platform called Google Tango which uses the same principles as ARKit to provide its mobile users with AR capabilities. But unlike ARKit, Google Tango requires Android manufacturers to equip their devices with brand new hardware in order to run their AR framework. Not to mention that Apple is launching ARKit on hundreds of millions of devices already in the hands of the customers, while Google’s Tango has roughly around 10 million users.

Facebook is also working on incorporating augmented reality into their own existing technologies, however, developers will probably feel limited as they can only use Facebook’s camera app. Apple will, however, let developers create and bring augmented reality to almost every independent iOS app. Snapchat is experiencing a similar fate, as their tech is only used in conjunction with the camera to provide its users with new photography and selfie options. There’s no need to mention Instagram’s efforts, as they have mostly been blatant rip-offs of Snapchat-developed functionality.

Will Apple succeed in pushing augmented reality?

The short answer is yes. Once ARKit is fully launched, Apple will become the single largest player in the augmented reality game for two simple reasons. The first one is the sheer number of iOS devices already in the hands of customers and the second is Apple’s unmatched popularity which hasn’t wavered one bit throughout the years.

Let’s not forget that all other tech companies have poured a lot of their manpower and resources into virtual reality development, allowing Apple to absolutely dominate the AR marketplace. Considering the number of companies jumping on the AR train after Apple’s big announcement, it’s safe to say that AR will be a vital part of the majority of trending business ideas that will be developed during the next couple of years.

Apple’s strong AR push will allow developers to create AR-first applications for extremely large audiences with a very low overhead. Even if these stand-alone AR apps don’t experience a significant breakthrough, chances are that AR will continue to advance by being incorporated into apps that people have already been using for some time now.

Whether it’s through the use of ever-present filters in various video services, optional augmented reality models for mobile games or using AR to promote products and provide customers with additional and significantly enhanced user-experience, augmented reality is a lot more than a simple fad and will likely be the next thing that will take over the entire world.

Marcus Jensen

Marcus is an Australian IT support professional. He’s running his own business, working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business and marketing and is a regular contributor on several sites.

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