ARKit 2.0 Gets a Universal File Format With Multi-User Support

June 5, 2018
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Apple really got me excited for augmented reality. At the Main Keynote during WWDC 2017, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi announced ARKit 2.0, as a part of iOS 12, with advancements in almost all areas.

According to Apple the new ARKit carries improvements in Face Tracking, Realistic Rendering, 3D Object Detection, Persistent Experiences, and Shared Experiences.

And, then there was the mention of a “universal” file format. More about that later, but first let’s talk about some fun stuff.

Multiplayer Support

In itself, augmented reality is a lot of fun. You can turn into a bear, chicken, or a piece of sh*t. You can catch virtual monsters. But, think how much fun it would be if you get some company.

That’s what Apple has done. With iOS 12, ARKit 2.0 would be able to support multiplayer gaming scenarios. The multiuser support will let different devices view the same AR scene in real time. This opens up possibilities for many learning and gaming scenarios.

This could be witnessed during the demo given by Director of Innovation at LEGO, Martin Sanders. He demonstrated how the new LEGO AR app will make full use of ARKit 2.0 features by connecting AR objects to physical LEGO sets.

What seemed like a mixed reality demo, a complete LEGO city was created where users were allowed to do things like place characters, build objects, go on quests, open sets to see inside and even play with friends in the same world.

You can also play augmented reality based competitive games. To demonstrated, Apple created SwiftShot, a slingshot-based tower destruction game. As shown in this video from TheNextWeb, the game can support up to four players who are playing the game on a straight wooden table.

AR File Format

Till today, augmented reality (AR) worked fluidly using software technologies like APIs, image renders, graphic processors, etc. Since the future looks exciting for AR, the tech needed its own file format.

Developed in partnership with Pixar, the Universal Scene Description (or “USDZ”) file format is basically a zero compression, unencrypted ZIP archive with support for all Apple devices. Through USDZ, the possibilities are endless.

But, the Cupertino computing giant is not alone on this.

It has roped in Adobe which natively provides support for the AR file format inside Creative Cloud, including Photoshop and Dimension.

Awesome Additions

With ARKit 2.0, Apple has tried to come full circle. With Persistent AR, you can leave virtual objects hanging out in the real world that you can easily come back to later. This could mean you can start a puzzle on the table and then just leave it in the middle, only to come back to it later in the day or even next day to find it exactly in the state you left it in.

Another interesting use of this ARKit was showcased in the demo of an app called Measure. This will allow you to measure length of a real world object using just your iPhone. It actually puts a 3D measuring tape, powered by the camera of your phone, in your pocket.

I was really excited to see Apple focusing on AR. What was your favorite use of ARKit? More importantly, what would you want to see this new and improved ARKit be used for? Feel free to tell us in the Comments below.

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