The iPhone 8 reveal is finally upon us. Apple is unveiling its latest flagship mobile device, and by now we generally know what to expect. There will be an edge-to-edge screen, likely a digital rather than physical home button, and possible a new color or two. Naturally, there will also be some improvements to the internal chip and the camera capabilities, as tends to be the case these days. The device will also come alongside iOS 11, the latest mobile operating system from Apple, and one that will be available for other compatible devices as well.
But the biggest news from this week’s Apple event will undoubtedly be ARKit. If you’re not familiar with that name, you will be soon. ARKit is the development system allowing mobile developers to create apps that will work in stunning augmented reality.
The idea is that simply by aiming your phone’s camera at a real physical area, you will be able to make virtual images appear as if they’re in that area – reflecting light realistically, scaling correctly to the surroundings, etc. Think of it as a particularly sharp version of the Pokémon GO app.
At first, ARKit may seem like a little bit of a digital gimmick or toy. But when you start to consider its potential impact across all different categories of apps, you realize it could be one of the biggest game changers of the smartphone era.
Here are a just a few of the major changes ARKit could bring about.
1. Shopping Habits :
There have been all kinds of neat demos of what ARKit is capable of already, and yet the one that might be making the most waves comes from IKEA, of all companies. As someone wrote in an article, IKEA’s AR app reveals the hidden potential of the iPhone 8 and iOS 11.
It does so by digitally placing furniture products in a space, such that potential customers can actually visualize their shopping lists. The same concept could work quite well for other companies as well. We may use ARKit to visualize art on the walls, different television and sound system setups, and basically any other visual element of the home.
Full-fledged virtual reality may have more impact on the general progress of the gaming industry toward bigger and more engaging experiences. But ARKit has massive potential to unlock a new medium for some simpler games. Board games and tabletop strategy experiences can come to life in exciting new ways, for instance, and in due time we’re likely have a resurgence as well.
Poker and blackjack will be great fun in AR, though slots may be the most exciting games. Wide ranges of titles online have already been made more interesting by the inclusion of fun characters and settings – the same characters hopping about on a table spicing up a slot gaming experience will be very enjoyable.
3. Fashion Retail
While IKEA has brought a lot of attention to the idea of furniture shopping, and gaming will probably be the most exciting category to the largest number of people, the fashion industry may ultimately experience the biggest change as a result of ARKit.
Just as AR will allow people to visualize furnishings and art in real spaces, they’ll also be able to look through clothing, or even “try it on” virtually. Some have suggested that this will bring about the end of physical changing rooms, and at the very least it should make online shopping much more precise (which means messing with returns less frequently!).
This isn’t discussed quite as frequently, at least with AR. With VR, there’s quite a bit written about how students can learn in a more hands-on manner, particularly with regard to medical education. But even AR can bring about interactive experiences that are fascinating to young students.
For instance, think about students manipulating chemical chains in a biology or chemistry class, or imagine manipulating 3D shapes in geometry. You can even look at entertainment demos, like one for a game called The Machines, and imagine history teachers showing off famous battles in AR for kids to get a better grasp of events. The potential in this category may have no end.
These are just some of the reasons that, as exciting as a new device from Apple is, the ARKit is the real headline this week.
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