Apple is exploring the world of augmented reality in a major way with iOS 11, the latest version of its mobile operating system, launching ARKit, a framework that will make it possible for developers to easily and rapidly add augmented reality to games and apps.
ARKit is set to become the biggest augmented reality (AR) platform on the planet when it is released this autumn, using not only the processors but cameras and motion sensors of the iPad and iPhone to generate some truly spectacular AR experiences.
While it will take a few months to see the first AR games and apps built using ARKit, Apple has created a demonstration app to illustrate what the technology is capable of. Apple news and rumours website Mac Rumors recently tested the demo and provided an idea of what to expect.
ARKit utilises technology known as visual-inertial odometry to scan the world around and iPhone or iPad, enabling the devices to sense a room’s layout and detect horizontal surfaces such as floors and tables. This enables the software to place virtual objects on these flat surfaces.
With ARKit’s ability to project a virtual object into any physical space, developers will, for example, be able to create one-of-a-kind AR experiences. Several demos have already been released showing what can be expected in the future.
At least one major retailer has already agreed to use ARKit – IKEA is working on a new AR app created using ARKit that will allow customers to project the furniture company’s products into their homes before purchasing them.
IKEA has offered AR functionality for a few years, but it said the experience will be hugely improved with ARKit and that AR is likely to “play a key role” in future product lines.