#Opinion – How will #ARKit and #ARCore impact on #MixedReality (2017 is still on fire!)

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Hi !

One year ago I wrote a post where I share my opinions on how important is to invest on learn 3D skills if you are a developer. In my own scenario, this was forced by the fact that I want to really understand the process of “create a Hololens App”, so I invested lot of time upgrading myself to this. Also, the bet is not for today, is for the near future (check references).

A few months ago during the Apple Developers Conference, Apple released their SDK to create Augmented Reality Apps: ARKit. ARKit allows us to get some data from the camera, and phone sensors and with this information we can position and build 3D elements in our surrounding environment. If you go deeper, the way that this SDK works is very interesting. I’ll try to explain this in the way I usually understand things (in a very simple way).

It all starts with the information received by the camera, and motion sensors. Using this information, ARKit defines a couple of anchor points or reference points in the camera FOV. The big difference with Hololens, resides in that ARKit does not create a 3D model of the environment, it allows an App to anchor 3D objects in the space, and then it performs some crazy calculation every time the phone moves to get new perspective, size and location of the 3D object. A good way to describe this is, think on what if Pokemon Go was really good in the AR space.

So, that’s it on ARKit, take a look at the references for more.

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And now ARCore is here. But to understand this we need to go back a little on time and start with another amazing Google project: Project Tango. Project Tango works on devices (tablets and smart phones) in which we have the standard sensors: camera and motion sensors, and we also have a depth sensor. Using this sources, Project Tango was able to create a virtual 3D model of the environment, and later we can position, build and draw 3D objects on it.

It’s really cool, however, as I commented before, it only works on specific devices, the ones with the additional sensor. And, to avoid the need of this extra sensor, Google presented ARCore. Again, let me try to explain how ARCore works

ARCore is like ARKit, but for Android. That’s it.

Note: Project Tango is still there and evolving, and ARCore focus is different, but I like to present this in this way.

Both platforms, ARKit and ARCore are great as a ramp up to create Augmented Reality Apps. Of course, the final Apps are not going to be as amazing as the one created on AR Devices, but Apple and Google right now have a big advantage on their competition: they can reach to millions of phones to run this Apps without the need of an additional hardware (keep this thought).

This is important, very important. We can take some previous experiences on how other organizations are making the entrance on this AR/VR world. It’s time to review the Mixed Reality history in Flash mode.

  • It all started on 2015 when Microsoft presented Hololens.
  • Until today, there is no competition for Hololens as a single Mixed Reality Experience, wireless device. But, to you need to save $4000 to get the device, price is a constraint.
  • During the past 3 years, there was a lot of advances and great news:
    • The development tools have become more and more powerful. Microsoft choose Unity3D as main tool for design and build of mixed reality Apps and this open the door for a big community of developers, gamers and more.
    • The “price problem” was solved with an interesting approach. Instead of spending $4K on a device, you can get much cheaper Mixed Reality headsets, and you need a PC to use them. They starts on $300.
    • Microsoft is creating cool partnerships, like the one with Steam. Think about all the experience SteamVR have on this field.
    • Microsoft have acquired Minecraft. I think this is with the goal to hit the table and release something amazing based on Minecraft VR, looking for the Wow effect!

And this is great, and as long term plan it makes sense. However, in less than 2 months Apple and Google have also open this market to millions of phone users, and without the need of an extra device (thanks for keeping the thought) and now it’s all in the hands of the people who creates Apps.

Another important one. There are thousands of companies and people building Apps for iPhone and Android. If they start to play around with this new technologies, for sure, we will have something amazing between all the crap which is also going to be generated. Again, the experience using ARKit or ARCore, is not as the ones you get when you use a dedicated device, but we don’t need to underestimate this.

Note: And now it’s time to talk to you my friend, the one who complained about the small Hololens FOV. What do you think now about the new FOV with a 6” device? and when you need it to move with your hand?

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At the end, there is also a bright side here. If you invested time to learn 3D, in something like in example Unity3D, now you can create Apps for any of this platforms using Unity3D. I’m assuming that the porting between platforms will be some kind of easy, with “light” versions of Apps for iPhone and Android, and much more powerful version of the same App for specific devices like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or any one of the Windows 10 Mixed Reality Devices.

As I said one year ago, amazing times are coming!

Greetings @ Toronto

El Bruno

References

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