As more businesses and individuals explore the realm of augmented reality(AR) and it’s possibilities, it becomes significantly vital for digital tools and AR editor platforms to be made available for brands, developers and AR digital artists to focus on developing the AR experience rather than the code or extraneous background processes for maintaining a smooth and seamless AR experience. This means brands can deploy marketing campaigns that incorporates AR media or experiences faster, create immersive and interactive product demonstrations for products or services, bring trademark logos and product packaging to life, as well as utilizing a stable AR development platform maintained by AR developers and experts.
Individuals who understand the potential or simply fascinated by such enlightening media, will be able to create AR content without having to boggle with the code. They’ll have a more streamlined way to create and share AR content. Such content can range from augmented facial features or gamification of the environment. Such as becoming a zombie or playing Pac-Man on a pizza box. AR editor platforms and AR SDKs will be vital for proliferation of AR media to enhance people lives.
Apple, the company tech-leader known for iPhones and Macs, understand the impact that augmented reality would have and early on released their own AR SDK for developers to “build unparalleled augmented reality experiences for hundreds of millions of users on iOS and iPadOS.” Apple continues to expand the available tools and features that provides AR developers a much more robust AR digital toolset, which includes ARKit 4, RealityKit, Reality Composer, Reality Converter and AR Quick Look.
The main SDK, ARKit 4 has plenty of features tucked into it. The data retrieved from the LiDAR Scanner(specific to iPad Pro(11 inch 2nd gen/12.9 inch 4th gen), iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max) is used by the Depth API for per-pixel depth information. This means developers have accurate measurements of the immediate environment for applying seamless environmental effects and realistic object placement. The LiDAR Scanner can also quickly detect flat planes, allowing for instant placement of AR media without need for full environmental scan. Location anchors are implemented for placing AR media at specified areas on the global map. Great for visiting tourists who want to learn more about a landmark they’ve stumbled upon.
The rear camera can also be used in conjuction with the front-facing camera, allowing outward facing AR media to be manipulated and augmented by facial expressions. For developers wanting to create content for the socialite, ARKit provides the feature to track up to three faces using the front-facing camera(of devices with A12 Bionic chip+). This can be utilized for creating cool facial effects and augmentation, that can then be shared on social media apps like Snapchat and Memoji. Multi-user sessions is also supported for AR applications and immersive experiences with chatting capabilities or other visceral ways for users to virtually interact with each other.
The RealityKit is the enhanced version of ARKit, letting AR developers utilize the native features of ARKit. Including location anchoring, multiple face-tracking and object occlusion. Object occlusion refers to what part and how much of an AR object you see due to its relations with other objects in the environment scene. Developers will also have access to the Swift API, removing the headache of boilerplate code for AR experiences. Swift API features enhanced object occlusion, enhanced virtual object and assets rendering, as well as any updates implemented on the main ARKit SDK will be reflected through RealityKit. Object and assets rendering utilizes real-world physics, such as ground shadows and motion blur for meshing object within environment for more realistic experience. A truly great XR tool for streamlining the creation of engaging and memoriable immersive experiences.
Apple continues to expand the XR digital toolset with applications such as the Reality Composer that provides access to built-in library of procedurally generated content for AR/digital assets and live-linking for cross-device development. Or the Reality Converter that is a drag-and-drop solution for converting and customizing 3D file-formats(.obj, .gltf and .usd) into USDZ object to implement into XR projects. And even AR Quick Look which is a solution for embedding AR content in Apple apps like Safari, Mail and News. All of these features and Apple’s growing ecosystem of XR development tools for Mac, iPhone and iPad, will open up new doors and allow creators to produce immersive and interactive content for the wider Apple user-base. If you are a XR developer, enthusiast or just seeking something cool, ARKit is a perfect entry point in the realm of augmented reality.
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