A few weeks ago, Apple held its Developers Conference (WWDC) opening with the keynote address where Tim Cook and friends introduced new features of their line of products. While many focused on the iPad Pro, the new iOS and Mac OS features or the HomePod speaker, for the long term, the real news for the investor is the Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities introduced (and the related Machine Learning).
In an earlier article I explained the importance of Augmented Reality as well as some of the technical details that make it so difficult.
The ARKit is an Applications Programming Interface (API) – a tool kit to help developers to write applications. With ARKit in particular – a tremendous amount of power is built in under the hood. Imagine if in order to drive a car you first had to build one from scratch – I mean starting with a block of aluminium to mill out the block and head, etc. This is what this API does for you – it gives you a car to drive. You can paint it and modify it and carry in it what you please. But the body and engine and electric systems are
all there – and functioning.
This API provides several important tools to the developer:
- Real world surface recognition
- Camera (iPhone/iPad) location
- Point distance from camera
- Real world lighting sources
If you use Apple’s SpriteKit or SceneKit APIs, then the drawing will be performed for you. You can also use the Unity cross-platform game engine by Unity Technologies, or the Unreal Engine developed by Epic Games. Both of these have now implemented systems to import ARKit data into their engines.
I am listing here a few early demos of the new technology, etc.
1 – Apple ARKit + Unity + Overwatch Widowmaker Test Recording
The amazing thing here is that the virtual girl is actually in the programmer’s bedroom.
2 – Unity AR Kit Demo on iOS 11 – checkered cube
This video shows how a virtual object is permanently placed. You can walk away and return and it is still there. Also, it sizes correctly for the distance. This really shows well the real world lighting. If you go to time 1:02 you can see how the cube side facing you is in deep shadow, but as the camera moves around it, the opposite side is brightly lit.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EibPhqaPTEo another game oriented demo. Totally cool the way the planes come in from over the desk.
3 – Interesting interview (14 minutes)
Pervasive technology. Enables developers
4 – MMD Dancing girl in real street
5 -Apple’s Augmented Reality Presentation at WWDC 2017
6 – WWDC 2017 Video Session – Introducing ARKit: Augmented Reality for iOS
7 – Apple ARKit JEB Furniture Demo
8 – How a Car Works: iOS augmented reality preview
Without dropping oil everywhere.