Over in San Jose, California, Apple has once again been showing the world their progress at the 2018 edition of its annual World Wide Developers Conference – aka WWDC. As usual it brought with it the next version of its mobile operating system iOS, this time revealing iOS 12. As well as improvements in areas such as performance it also debuted with a number of new features and upgrades to existing areas of interest within the operating system.
When it came to actually going through these at WWDC, it was immersive technology – in this instance augmented reality (AR) – that was front and centre. Senior Vice President of Software and Engineering Craig Federighi kicking things off with AR and a number of announcements and reveals. Including an ARKit powered measuring app called, appropriately, Measure and a new file format for AR created with some help from Disney’s Pixar, that will see AR support coming to familiar tools such as Adobe Photoshop.
“ARKit opens up the world of AR to hundreds of millions of users. Making it the world’s largest AR platform. By far.” Federighi told the assembled crowd at the McEnery Convention Center. “We’re on a relentless pace of advancement with AR, and that continues today with ARKit 2. ARKit 2 delivers advances with improved face tracking, realistic rendering, and support for 3D object detection and persistence – which enables launching into AR experiences associated with a particular object or physical space. Like starting a game based around a physical toy, or having a physical classroom as the foundation for a lesson that was authored in AR.”
Federighi then revealed how ARKit 2 (which also has an updated logo) was bringing with it shared experiences, allowing for multiple users to have their own person viewpoint of a single AR experience within a common environment in real-time. Be that a videogame, or other experience. This was showcased in two forms. The first through captured video of an app to be released today that Apple created, a versus videogame featuring an AR slingshot, before Apple invited LEGO’s Director of Innovation Martin Sanders onto the stage. To showcase how the popular toy firm had used ARKit 2 to create a virtual playset, that can come to life at the touch of a button.
“Creating and playing with physical LEGO sets brings great joy to millions of children and LEGO fans all over the world. And now, with ARKit 2, we get to expand those creative possibilities like never before and take things beyond the physical.” Said Sanders. “Our LEGO sets are really the start for all of those children’s imaginations and when we get the chance to embed ARKit 2 it really takes it to the next level.”
In the following demo Sanders helped show how ARKit 2 cold be used to scan a physical LEGO model, recognise what it was, and generate an expanded AR world around it with additional roads, buildings, and other locations. Even combining models the system knew each player owned and allowing them to combine their sets in a combination of AR representations and physical toys. LEGO’s appearance at WWDC marks a period of frequent association with immersive technology. Just last week, UK retail catalogue store Argos updated its AR app to view LEGO models in AR and earlier last month Merlin Entertainment revealed a deal with VR technology company Immotion for a new VR experience at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Boston.
LEGO will be bringing new experiences that utilise ARKit 2 to the Apple Store later on this year. VRFocus will bring you news on those as we get them.