For years, people have tried to realise Augmented Reality into an affordable solution. It has been a pivotal story telling element in many sci-fi movies for years, delivering information in the form of holographic projections.
However for many years, there was no way to achieve an affordable or portable Augmented Reality solution. Finally, rapid development of large-screen mobile devices finally provides a way forward.
In 2014, Google launched Project Tango. It was the tech giant’s first trial to bring AR to the mobile world. Unfortunately, this trial was unsuccessful as it required specific hardware, like depth sensors, which are not widely adopted by mobile phone manufacturers.
Google literally had 0% market share over next few years. In 2017 the industry changed when Google’s competitor Apple released ARKit. ARKit differs from Project Tangle by ditching reliance on depth sensors and utilising the inbuilt camera to capture feature points. It may not be as accurate as Project Tango, but instantly millions of existing mobile phones became compatible devices allowing users to play with Augment Reality content. Google responded swiftly releasing ARCore, Android’s equivalent of ARKit. Now, both Android and iOS devices support Augment Reality functionalities.
Here are some typical Augment Reality market use cases:
Augmented Reality enables people to do 3D design based on real-world surroundings. This is especially useful for industries such as interior design. IKEA released the IKEA Place app, in which IKEA modelled all their products. The app then uses the camera and ARKit to detect floors and walls so that users can place virtual furniture in the “real world” in the camera. This saves users lots of time measuring spaces in their homes or offices, and gives them immediate feedback about how the furniture would look when placed in the room.
Most Augmented Reality based learning apps are no more than just displaying 3D models. However, the AR features bring a whole new level of interactivity. Users can place a 3D object on a floor or desk and as they move their device to see the object from different angles.
Measuring the dimension of an object is another typical use case for Augmented Reality. ARKit and ARCore are able of estimating distances between your phone and an object. With this information, calculations can estimate the dimension of the target object based on the start and end points specified by the user. This functionality is particularly useful during property inspection. You will not have to cary a tape measure or expensive laser rulers, just your mobile phone.
This combines the highly advanced technologies of Augmented Reality with GPS. Together it overlays real-time 3D directions and markers in the real world. ARCity is a good example app. However, it’s currently only available in London.
Apple and Google both continue to develop their Augmented Reality frameworks. They announced ARKit 2.0 and ARCore 2.0 in their recent conferences with more even features. It will not be a surprise that one day the Augmented Reality technology will fundamentally change the way we live, work, and interact with digital devices.