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Type Software Development Kit (SDK)
Industry Virtual reality, Augmented Reality
Developer Apple
Operating System iOS
Supported Devices iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X, all models of iPad Pro, and the new 9.7-inch iPad
Release Date June 2017

In June 2017 Apple released the ARKit API tool for developers working on virtual reality and augmented reality applications. The ARKit Tool is designed to accurately map the surrounding using SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping). Moreover, to create augmented reality experiences users don’t need any external equipment.

Creating Augmented Reality Apps Is Much Easier Now

During the Worldwide Developers Conference, that was held a few months back, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced the next generation version of its operating system – the iOS 11. The new OS brings many changes, small and big, to both design and interface. In addition, many new developer tools have also been added to boost the performance of the apps.

The ARKit API will be hosted by iOS 11 – the latest version of the Apple operating system. ARKit allows users to make the best use of the cameras and sensors already built-in the Apple devices to create new AR applications.

ARKit has opened a wide range of possibilities in the area of augmented reality. For example, the software helps identify the flat surface of a table, so that a user can place virtual objects on it. Even basic AR experiences like this one require tremendous computing power. Fortunately, ARKit can count on the capabilities of iPad and iPhone to create impressive AR experiences. Apple is very bullish on ARKit to create a huge range of applications and games that blends the virtual world with the real one.

Developers who have had the opportunity to use the ARKit are impressed with the simplicity and elegance of the framework. Most of them feel the development of AR experiences using ARKit is a lot easier than using Microsoft Hololens and Google Tango.

Best Features of the Apple ARKit

TrueDepth Camera

ARKit and iPhone X bring the groundbreaking face tracking feature in AR applications. With the help of the TrueDepth Camera, the ARKit Software can detect and analyze 50 different facial muscles, along with the expressions, topology, and position of the face. The highly accurate and live data captured by the camera can be used by the app to generate facial expressions to create 3D animoji characters.

Visual Inertial Odometry

ARKit taps into VIO (Visual Inertial Odometry) to correctly read the surrounding environment. VIO combines the data captured by the camera sensor with the CoreMotion data. The combined information lets the device accurately sense its movement in the room without any further calibration.

Scene Understanding and Lighting Estimation

The ARKit tool allows the device to analyze and understand the scene presented by the camera and identify horizontal surfaces. The flat surface of floors and tables detected by the tool can be used to create augmented reality experiences where virtual objects can be placed on the real surface. In addition, with the help of camera sensors, the ARKit estimates the lighting in a scene and uses that information to light the virtual objects.

High Performance Hardware and Rendering Optimizations

Revolutionary, innovative, compelling, and detail-oriented augmented reality apps and games can be built by developers using the ARKit primarily due to the computing power delivered by Apple A9, A10, and A11 processors. The ARKit functioning can be further optimized using SceneKit, Metal, or third-party software such as Unreal Engine and Unity.

Documentations and Sample Codes

Apple provides detailed documentation for developers to build augmented reality experiences on iOS devices. From the Apple website developers can also download sample codes to gain better understanding of the ARKit API tool. ARKit will take the augmented reality to the next level and introduce users to new ways to interact with the real world.

Apple Devices that Work with ARKit

ARKit runs on Apple devices that are powered by A9, A10, and A11. But, not all devices that run these processors will support ARKit. The augmented reality developer tool ARKit will only work on iPhone SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X, all models of iPad Pro, and the new 9.7-inch iPad.

Uses of ARKit

Sky is the limit for what can be built with ARKit, but for now developers have come up with some interesting apps and games that blend the virtual with the real world. Here are some of the best augmented reality apps and games created using ARKit.

Painting Apps: Virtual reality studio, Normal has brought together the HTC VR Kit and iOS beta powered iPad in its new AR app. The firm has built an augmented reality painting tool that replicates the action of the HTC Vive wearer on the iPad screen.

Strategy Games: During the Worldwide Developers Conference the audience were given a visual treat. Wingnut AR, a game development studio, showcased a virtual battlefield that could be easily developed into a strategy game.

Tape Measure: Measurement Cloud, built by Smart Picture 3D, can be used as a measuring tape. Now, you don’t have to wonder whether the new work table you purchased will fit your office or not. You don’t need a measuring tape; your smartphone with this app can do the job.

Vehicle Purchases: People who are too busy to accompany their children on their first bike or car purchase can use an ARKit built application to preview the vehicle.

Education: Krutosh, an iOS developer, has designed an iPhone application that can bring virtual planets and stars in the living room. This simple app demonstrates the potential of augmented reality in the field of education.








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