Apple's AR Kit shows promising capabilities in the hands of developers

Apple introduced its Augmented Reality Kit (ARKit) at WWDC 2017, and developers are demonstrating the capabilities of the platform. The kit allows developers to create applications that draw 2D and 3D shapes over real world environments. The AR Kit analyses the scene, combines that with data from the motion tracking sensors on the device, to allow developers to create AR experiences. These are some early projects from developers using the ARKit.

The white dots in the tape measure app are the tracking elements, which analyses surfaces on the scene and tracks the changes in the environment. Apple refers to the process as Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO). While ARKit allows developers to create applications that are more practical than Pokémon GO or virtual face overlays for social camera applications, Apple has guided developers on the situations where the platform may not work as expected. These include dim lighting conditions, environments where there are a lot of moving objects, and plain surfaces such as blank walls or tables. ARKit also allows for tracking of the light conditions in realtime. This means that if you walk around an augmented reality asset, the iPhone can guess the sources of lighting and cast shadows appropriately. The ARKit estimates the amount of lighting in a real world environment, and then applies similar lighting conditions to the virtual objects drawn in the scene. You can see it in action in this demonstration:

ARKit is currently in beta and available to developers. With the roll out of iOS 11, hundreds of millions of Apple users around the world will be able to use applications developed using ARKit. ARKit will run on any device with an A9 or A10 processor. This gives Apple a legup over Google, which first introduced its AR platform, Project Tango in 2014. As of 2017 there is only one project Tango capable phone in the Indian market, the Lenovo Phab2 Pro, and the only other one expected to be available any time soon is the Asus Zenfone AR announced at CES 2017.

Published Date: Jun 27, 2017 15:39 PM | Updated Date: Jun 27, 2017 15:39 PM