ARKit enables iPhones and iPads running iOS 11 to superimpose computer-generated graphics over the real world, allowing developers to take their apps beyond the screen and into the user's environment.
By using the built-in camera, processors, and motion sensors found in iOS devices, virtual content appears on top of real-world scenes, and users don't need any special equipment to enjoy them. One developer who spoke to Motherboard said Apple had improved upon existing AR solutions because of the ARKit framework's simplicity.
"The most impressive aspect of ARKit is that it tends to just work," said Cody Brown, founder of virtual reality production studio IRL, in an online interview with Motherboard. "Other AR software often requires some sort of physical tracking mechanism (like a QR code), which inevitably becomes a major piece of friction if you are trying to get anyone to use this stuff.During its keynote at WWDC, Apple demoed a range of effects that ARKit is capable of. One test showed a user placing a steaming digital coffee mug and a lamp on a table and moving the objects around to show off the tracking and shadow effects. Several other ARKit developer demos have since appeared online, including a virtual "iPhone 8", roving Star Wars character BB-8, dog-stalking zombies, office floor naval battles, dancing Candy rock stars, and more.
"Another incredible aspect of ARKit is how it handles lighting adjustments in real time, continued Brown. "I can only imagine the math and magic underneath this tech to make it work."
Impressed with how well ARKit maps objects to your environment. And easy to get started! pic.twitter.com/0am5dXlXui— Kyle Russell (@kylebrussell) June 6, 2017
Apple has invested heavily in augmented reality, making several VR/AR company acquisitions in recent years including PrimeSense, FaceShift, and Metaio. Apple's much-anticipated "iPhone 8", which is expected to be announced in September, is rumored to have 3D sensing capabilities, with augmented reality being one possible use for the technology.
ARKit will come to compatible devices as part of iOS 11, which Apple is set to release in the fall.
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