Augmented reality as a concept isn’t new. Just like a lot of other concepts in technology, augmented reality (AR) has been through an evolutionary journey, growing and adapting itself like any other. The term was conceived in 1990 when researcher Tom Caudell at Boeing postulated it for use on the factory floor. A couple of months ago, at WWDC, Apple announced it was looking at AR in a huge way with ARKit.
If I had to ponder over the past few years, I observe three distinct variants – virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. And pioneering these three areas are – Facebook, through its acquisition of Oculus; Google, through its Glass project; and Microsoft, through its HoloLens project. It’s a pity though. Despite being impressive concepts by themselves, I don’t find them mainstream worthy just yet.
Over the past three years, I’ve experienced the Oculus Rift developer edition and the HoloLens at ease. I’ve only been able to see the Google Glass briefly. But I’ve had a few friends in the developer circles who’ve described their experience at length to me. Alas, there was just one common denominator in the sluggish adaption of these impressive attempts – high cost of associated hardware.
Fine crafted effort by Apple
At worldwide developer conference (or DubDubDeeCee) in June this year, Apple announced a slew of features in its next version of its mobile operating system. But towards the end of the event, Apple demoed its trump card in its battle for sealing its grip over the next wave of tech innovation. Meet ARKit.
There are two reasons why ARKit has immense potential. One, the need for an AR headset or wearable has been obviated. Two, given that iOS has a longer support cycle and lesser fragmentation than Android, it already seems to have an edge over ARCore. I’ve seen the past of AR. And I believe there’s scope to improve. With cool new apps developed for iOS 11 implementing ARKit, I’ve seen the beginning of the future of AR. And it’s pretty damn interesting. Here’s a demo of just what’s possible with Apple’s ARKit.