Five Ways Apple’s ARKit Will Change Your World

Apple’s ARKit (coming with iOS 11) will dramatically speed up augmented reality (AR) development. There is a massive install base with the iPhone and iPad, sidestepping the big hurdle Oculus’ Rift VR has of costly (and limited use) hardware.

While the AR market has seen considerable growth, Apple’s commitment to AR will significantly expand the number of developers — and consumers — adopting this technology.

Video games are often the first use to come to mind when thinking about AR. Certainly, one of my forays into AR is a brand-awareness game in partnership with Candy Lab and Quicksilver Software working with Candy Lab’s location-based AR engine.

Games continue to be at the attention-grabbing forefront — for example, Apple themselves used an Unreal engine-powered game demo in their WWDC announcement. But games barely scratch the surface for AR’s potential.

Augmented reality is a powerful enabler of text- and image-recognition, as well as location-based technologies. So what can you do with this magic portal of AR goodness?

Service and Repair

Technicians working on-site can use interactive AR overlays to review repair and maintenance procedures, reducing the chances of mistakes and the need to call in for higher-level support.

For the DIY crowd, mobile AR offers expert knowledge at your fingertips in a practical, hands-on manner. Manufacturers could release their own AR support kits to consumers, extending the life and value of their products. It might even eliminate the need for you to wait for the cable company technician to show up at your house sometime between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.

No, not that wire!

Education

With keyword and image recognition, lesson material can appear to literally leap off the page, creating engaging and memorable learning opportunities.

History becomes more relevant to students when presented in context. AR maps, timelines, and other interactive tools are great additions to traditional lessons that supplement and enhance (rather than merely replace) reading.

Museums and historic sites can also utilize augmented reality experiences to bring the past alive in vivid ways that will connect with visitors.

Virtual characters and objects can “exist” in three-dimensional space, allowing people to not only view events from a distance, but walk among them.

And unlike helmeted VR, people using mobile AR are not disconnected from each other or their actual location — instead they are connected to it in a more experiential fashion.

As an advocate of game-based learning, I’ll take the opportunity to cheat on my “games are just scratching the surface” comment above and note that AR offers really cool opportunities for collaborative classroom learning through interactive games.

Home Improvement and Construction

Realtors can showcase potential home and property improvements, enhancing a traditional walk-through.

In a similar fashion, fundraisers can show prospective donors what transformations their money will bring to museums and other non-profit organizations.

Landscape planning is no longer a sketch at the kitchen table and is instead a dynamic experience in your backyard.

What will your yard look like with fruit trees versus shade trees? Will it feel crowded if you add that fire pit? Move items around the yard with the touch of a finger then walk around and try it out!

(Just don’t try to sit on the virtual lounge chair.)

As long as the grill is real, I’m sold

In-Store Shopping Assistance

If you’re like me, searching for a specific item in big-box stores like Costco and Walmart or large home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot is one of my least favorite things to do.

YouTube may have told me I need a dual-lug 3/4" hex bit widget (okay, I made that up) but I have no idea what it looks like and where I can find it.

Good luck finding that widget, Indy

Enter the store’s AR app. Not only can it tell if it’s in stock, arrows on the floor will show me the quickest path to the widget, and image recognition will find it on the shelves for me.

There are obvious medical and military applications of AR technology as well. After all, many medical professionals and soldiers carry iPhones, too. The US Army recently released a concept video of what augmented reality might mean for soldiers, and I have advised organizations on how AR can be used when operating military drones.

There have been early steps in all these areas, but Apple’s commitment to augmented reality will accelerate the competition and innovation. Considering how many people are already carrying the hardware in their pockets, you can look forward to practical AR tools sooner than you think.

We just have to make sure the future doesn’t look like this.

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Christopher Lawrence is an award-winning interactive technology consultant. He is passionate about the intersection of AR/VR immersion, game-based learning, and story-driven media.

Christopher’s groundbreaking work includes Full Spectrum Warrior, the mixed-reality US Army and Marine Corps trainer MCIT, and Texas Rope ’Em, the world’s first augmented reality poker game.

He also swears he is not a cyborg. Yet.