What once were whispers have become loud, thrilling headlines regarding Apple’s interest in augmented reality. We’ve been hearing fo a while that CEO Tim Cook would rather dominate AR than dive into the competitive and uncertain VR industry. Now we’re starting to see results. Apple has bet on phones for the future of AR with its subtle but powerful reveal of the ARKit development technology. We’re also receiving more definitive word about designs for AR glasses.
Even if we know the technology is being prioritized, and we’ve seen some awesome ARKit demos already, it’s hard to know exactly what the AR is for. We know in broad terms what it’s capable of, but we can’t predict for sure where developers will focus their efforts, or what concepts Apple might help promote.
That said, we do have some ideas.
The Pokémon GO Imitations
Pokémon GO was our first really good taste of AR on mobile phones. By appearing to place virtual Pokémon in our actual world it effectively blends realities. Now that we’ve seen some of what ARKit is capable, Pokémon GO already looks a little bit crude. The point here is that we’ll be hoping to see similar, if somewhat more refined games. Remember Harry Potter GO? No? If not, it’s probably because it never actually existed. We were told that Niantic would have an early 2017 release for a Potter-themed imitation of Pokémon GO, and that only got people thinking about other possibilities for spinoffs. We never got them, but maybe we will now.
Convincing Design Assistants
Oddly enough, a lot of the pictures you’ll find if you do some searches relating to Apple’s AR or the ARKit feature design programs. You might see people holding phones up to rooms in their homes, projecting virtual furniture to get an idea of how it might look. It sort of resembles online floor planning tools, if you’ve ever fiddled around with these when looking for a new apartment. These kind of design assistant programs are often clunky and unrealistic, but with AR they could be pretty spectacular. It’s not as exciting as a new type of gaming by any means, but it could be useful if done right.
Mind-Blowing Tabletop Games
When we imagine VR and AR games we tend to picture fantastic virtual environments that totally transport us into fantasies. But these might not be the most important games, especially in AR. Virtual reality has established itself as the next frontier of casino gaming, and this might be a better hint of we can it expect when it comes to AR. Casino games don’t really require full environments in that you can project a roulette wheel or card on an ordinary table through AR. By extension, we could see things like tabletop RPGs and board games brought to life in stunning fashion through ARKit apps. Simplicity might be a winning formula.
Some of the coolest demonstrations that have come out in ARKit are actually scientific in nature. One person replicated the moon landing in his bedroom, and someone else simulated a SpaceX rocket landing in his pool. Right now these look like playful gimmicks, but they could also be early indications of a new kind of scientific education. It would be wonderful to see a heavy focus on this kind of application, as it could teach whole generations of young people to take a deeper interest in science and other subjects.