Apple WWDC 2017 saw the announcement of iOS 11, which includes a new ARKit for augmented reality. Now we know Apple CEO Tim Cook has in the past said that AR is the future, and it looks like the company is going full throttle to ensure developers can create a viable AR experience on the iPhone, iPad. As Apple explained during the WWDC keynote, ARKit will be incorporated deep into iOS 11, and will make it the “largest AR platform in the world”.
ARKit takes advantage of the iPhone’s camera, motion sensors and graphics processors to allow developers create apps and games that combines the real world with the virtual world. During the live streaming, an updated version of Pokemon Go was also shown. In addition, a representative from director Peter Kackson’s Wingnut AR studios showcased an AR gaming demo, which will be arriving later this. So what exactly will ARKit offer to developers? Apple’s ARKit developer page sheds more light on this platform.
First there’s Visual Inertial Odometry, which will let ARKit track the world, and for this it will fuse camera sensor data with CoreMotion data. According to Apple, “these two inputs allow the device to sense how it moves within a room with a high degree of accuracy, and without any additional calibration.”
The second aspect of ARKit is the “Scene Understanding and Lighting Estimation”, which Apple says will let the ARKit analyse the scene based on the camera view, and then find “horizontal planes like tables and floors, and can track and place objects on smaller feature points as well.” This could help furniture companies like Ikea, etc create AR-powered apps, where you can super impose some of the products from the app onto to your real surrounds via the camera, and see how all of it looks. the ARKit also relies on the camera sensor to figure out the amount of light in a room, and will then apply the correct light to the virtual objects.
Read more: Apple WWDC 2017 highlights: Siri, HomePod, iOS 11, and more | Read here.
Finally, ARKit will work on Apple A9 and A10 processors, and will allow for fast and accurate real-time rendering of virtual objects on top of the actual surroundings. Apple says developers can use the optimizations for ARKit in Metal, SceneKit, and third-party tools like Unity and Unreal Engine as well.
Silicon Valley behemoths Facebook and Google have been betting high on augmented reality (AI). Apple’s entrance into the augmented reality space marks the beginning of the mainstream consumer platform. Apple said that hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads will be able to run apps created with ARKit platform.
CEO Tim Cook had hinted several times in the past that augmented reality (AI) will be as big as the iPhone. In an interview to The Independent earlier this year, Cook said that “the smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives”.
With the release of ARKit to developers, Apple is bringing augmented reality to the masses on iPhones, iPads. In comparison, Microsoft’s HoloLens is still a far more expensive, and niche devices, after all it starts $3000. Rival Google’s Project Tango, a specialized AR platform, is available on a handful of devices. Tango needs a dedicated hardware, while Microsoft is asking you to invest in a headset that’s largely inaccessible to users. Apple isn’t even asking to invest in a special hardware to experience augmented reality apps, instead it is pushing developers to create the apps.