Augmented Reality, this is your year

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2021 is positioned to really expand the use of AR in every aspect of our lives.  The release of iPad Pro and the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, with its built in Lidar scanner and motion capture, brings a powerful array of tools for experiencing AR.  Controlling objects via motion capture in real time is already transforming how we interact with CGI objects, changing how we will learn, work, and be entertained.   Expect to see hundreds of applications in education, entertainment, industry, and travel that use the motion capture, Lidar, custom filters, and lens to make realistic and immersive AR experiences.  Already, platforms large and small are making use of these hardware and software features. 

Snapchat, a first mover in AR overlays, rapidly expanded the use of AR in 2020—expect to see a lot more from them in the coming year.  Their early entry into the world of AR changed user’s features and rapidly expanded its capability to modify landscapes, create interactive models,  and generate effects. They’ve also created powerful tools, such as Len’s Studio. Users can generate limitless graphics that can be displayed as AR overlays. The alignment is precise—you can overlay anyone or anything via the Lidar, which now comes standard in many mobile devices. 

The ability to create custom lens filters and lenses has spread rapidly to other platforms such as Facebook and Zoom (via Snapchat hacks (http://sndrv.com/zoom/). Not to be outdone, Apple has created ARKit and RealityKit, along with two super powerful creative tools: Reality Converter and Reality Composer. Most any user will be able to bring their imagination to life with a modicum of skill.

ARKit 4 has a brand new Depth API that lets anyone with an iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, or iPad Pro access the detailed depth information gathered by the Lidar Scanner with ease. ARKit 4 also employs something they call location anchoring which enables you to access the high-resolution data in Apple Maps, making it easier to place AR experiences at specific location points in the real world, which can then be seen by XS or later generation iPhones and latest iPad devices.  

Using the Apple Neural Engine and a front-facing camera, face tracking is now fully supported by all the new iPhone and iPad devices, massively extending the use of AR in photos and video. Even if you have no experience in 3D, the new Apple’s Reality Composer is easy to use—a tool anyone can use to create interactive augmented reality experiences. If you have existing 3D models, the Reality Converter converts them to USDZ files for fast, seamless use by Apple tools. 

In a hurry? No problem—with AR Quick Look you can insert 3D objects into the real world to easily create interactive experiences to be shared and viewed on AR enabled devices. Overall, these hardware and software tools will supercharge what can be done with AR on Apple devices.

Expect to see thousands of new AR apps for Apple and Android in 2021 with far better image overlays for transforming the real world into anything you can imagine. A few AR applications to be on the lookout for are: the new Pokémon GO app, Stack AR— an arcade game from Ketchapp, and Reach, an AR social networking app releasing in 2021 from Beyond Imagination that will change the way we communicate, play, and interact with our friends.

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