Over recent years, the idea of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have slowly made their way into the lexicon of today's consumers. Unfortunately, while visions of an "augmented world" and the promise of "instant data tied to physical locations" have been teased across multiple channels, to date these technologies have yet to actually make their way into the hands of most consumers.
Luckily, with the latest announcement from Apple on its upcoming IOS 11 release, the promise of an augmented future may actually be coming to life.
Introduced in early May as part of its upcoming release, Apple's new augmented reality platform, dubbed ARKit, promises to do what many other previous platforms have only imagined: bring actual, usable augmented reality into the hands of consumers worldwide on iPhone and iPad. Built on top of existing hardware, and taking advantage of existing 3D and VR engines such as Unity, Unreal, and SceneKit; ARkit will allow developers to easily overlay virtual content on top of real-world scenes to create stunning augmented reality applications and content. Developers are already jumping in and exploring the limits of what the early tech has to offer ‚ inventing creations that range from useful measuring tape applications to 3D zombies and the ability to balance objects on top of pets heads.
While the idea of AR is definitely nothing new, historically the problem with AR has been one of practicality. Over the past few years, products such as Magic Leap, Tango, and Microsoft's Hololens have wowed the imaginations of consumers with their visions of augmented reality's future but have consistently failed to deliver a product that was truly accessible. Additionally, these technologies have often been impractical, consisting of complex bulky accessories, expensive hardware, and/ or have been pure vaporware. Considering all this, Apple's latest ARKit offering has the potential to really shake up the industry because it is making a technology that has been historically out of reach, immediately available ‚ on hundreds of millions of consumer devices worldwide.
Where other frameworks have tried and failed, it'll be interesting to see how Apple's latest offering does in the real world once it's officially released. And, with only 3 months left to go before that happens, the community acceptance of the product has already gone a long way to get developers excited about the upcoming platform.
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