The Latest AR Technology and Real-World Examples
The Latest AR Technology and Real-World Examples
Augmented reality is the fusion of virtual objects in real-world settings. While the technology has been around for several years, it is more recently beginning to impact our everyday experiences. From an entertainment perspective, AR provides endless opportunities to create increasingly interactive games, instant image filters and showcase virtual additions to real-world landmarks. But AR capabilities are applicable in all industries and are changing how we work across manufacturing, advertising, eCommerce and beyond.
In this article, we explain some of the tools developers are using to build the AR experiences we are all beginning to use. To fully showcase the true potential of the technology, we have included examples of the latest AR projects and apps that are making waves in the market.
Augmented Reality Tools
Apple, Microsoft and Google are just a few of the huge companies that are taking massive strides in the AR industry. Both Apple’s ARKit and Microsoft’s 3D builder are freely available, opening the door wide open for the creation of innovative new applications and AR uses.
What is Microsoft’s 3D builder?
The Microsoft 3D Builder lets you view, create and edit 3D objects and make any 3D content printable. It’s completely free and installed by default on all computers with Windows 10. It’s also available on mobiles, Xbox One, HoloLens and Surface Hub.
You can download pre-made 3D files, personalise them with the intuitive toolkit and make them 3D printable. It’s even possible to take a picture with your webcam and make it 3D. Or, using the 3D scan app you can scan yourself in full colour to create a 3D model of yourself!
Alternatively, you can build from scratch using the drag-and-drop builder. Merge and subtract simple geometric shapes to create even the most complex objects and then add and emboss text onto any shape. You can render surfaces and textures with lifelike material options including metallic and translucent. Stack textures using the layered paint tools for a more realistic effect. Once complete, you can stamp a QR code onto your object for additional interactive opportunities.
One of the most useful tools is the repair feature. When you import or create a 3D object, the 3D Builder software will automatically scan it to detect any potential faults which you can then repair. This guarantees a cleaner manufacturing process for anyone using 3D printing.
What is Apple’s ARKit?
Apple has long been at the forefront of augmented reality technology. Their ARKit 4 is the latest release that brings more advanced AR capabilities to Apple users and developers. For those using Apple technology is it easy to begin an ARKit project and then install your 3D artwork. You can use ARKit’s 3D graphics framework, SceneKit Editor, to change the position, texture or global features of your 3D objects.
The ARKit comes with a long list of advanced features:
- LiDAR Scanners on iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPad Pro collate detailed depth information of your surroundings. With the LiDAR scanner, plane detection happens incredibly quickly. No time is spent scanning and AR objects can be instantly placed in the real world.
- The new Depth API can now access the information picked up by the LiDAR Scanners down to the pixel. 3D objects can then instantly merge with physical surroundings, giving users a fast, seamless experience.
- Location Anchors let you place AR experiences at specific real-world locations, such as a landmark or city street. Use latitude, longitude and altitude coordinates to anchor your AR creations in a specific location. Just as real objects are viewed through a camera lens, users can walk around anchored virtual objects and view them from all angles.
- Expanded Face Tracking means that more Apple users can enjoy AR experiences with their front-facing cameras. The camera can track up to 3 faces at the same time. Examples of this in action include Snapchat and Memoji.
- Scene Geometry: you can create topological maps of real-world spaces and use labels to identify the floor, walls and ceilings. This means that real-world physics can be applied to virtual objects.
- Simultaneous Front and Back Camera: Face and world tracking can take place at the same time, increasing interaction possibilities.
The Latest and Greatest AR Creations
All of this information can become pretty technical! The best way to demonstrate what this technology can do is to show you. We have selected some of the most successful and most recent examples of how this technology is being used every day. AR is no longer sci-fi, but available for the masses. Bringing it to your business or eCommerce site is not out of reach.
Improving eCommerce Experiences: WPX & Crucial Trading
At WPX we have built our own AR plugin: AR Quick Look for WooCommerce. It allows the user to view interactive, 3D images of products to any real-world setting. It is fully compatible with WooCommerce stores and currently available to iOS customers. Crucial Trading’s Inspire App shows the technology in action. The app was an integral part of the company’s digital rehaul which saw sales increase by an incredible 988%.
This technology isn’t just for furniture placement either. Using front-facing cameras, users can now test out new makeup looks and hair colours. L’Oreal’s website has a ‘Virtual Try On’ area where users can experiment with new looks before they make an online purchase.
Unforgettable AR Advertisements: Pepsi Max
Pepsi Max wanted to create an interactive digital campaign. The intelligent Augmented Reality experience transformed London bus shelters displays into unbelievable experiences. 3D scenes of laser-shooting UFOs, a tiger and fiery asteroid were just some of the scenes overlayed on a live feed of the street ahead. The campaign was a huge success. Youtube videos clocked up 8 million views and the campaign received international news coverage that reached 385 million people.
Intelligent AR Experiences: LEGO
When Lego released their new Star Wars sets, they wanted an experiential campaign that would draw shoppers into their stores. They created an interactive Star Wars game that people could play whilst standing outside their shop windows. 3D cameras were installed outside shop fronts that tracked customer traffic and movements. Individual players used arm gestures to build Lego spaceships for the new galaxy.
Lego is no stranger to AR technology. In 2017 they used Apple’s ARKit to create their AR app that allows children to play with virtual LEGO sets. In 2019 they released LEGO Hidden Side, physical sets with built-in AR anchors. The free app allows a builder to see the ‘hidden side’ of their LEGO creations, solving spooky mysteries in a first-person AR game.
Deliver Detailed Information to Crew and Customers: Changi Airport and Mercedes
Valuable for both workers and customers, AR technology can be used to provide useful information from real-world prompts. Singapore’s Changi Airport ground crew have been using AR-enabled glasses for several years to give them instant information on baggage weight and destination.
Rather than using physical QR codes that would need to be printed and stuck on and manually scanned for every piece of cargo, virtual QR codes are anchored to the real-life luggage instead. When the ground staff wear the AR-enabled glasses, the QR codes automatically appear. The glasses scan the codes to display the relevant cargo information. By cutting down on inefficiencies, this has reduced the time spent loading by 15 mins per item, which has directly improved customer wait times.
Customers can similarly access detailed data through a screen using AR technology. Mercedes car owners who have an unexpected flashing dashboard light can simply point and shoot their smartphone camera at the dashboard to receive detailed diagnostics and instructions.
Smartphones Become Measuring Tools: AR Ruler
Many AR Ruler applications have been developed using ARKit and Augmented Reality technology. Users can measure distances in the real world using just their smartphone camera.
Bring Characters into Real-World Settings: AR Cartoons
What better way to keep children entertained than bringing their favourite cartoons into the home? Using ARKit and Unity, developers were able to expand the world of cartoons and depict cartoon characters in real-world settings.
Find Your Friends in a Crowd: Neon AR App
The dreaded feeling of finding yourself alone at a festival when you’ve lost your mates is one a lot of us have experienced. Users of this app will easily be able to find their way back to the group thanks to location tracking combined with ARKit capabilities. Select the friend you’re trying to find, then it’s as easy as following the arrow pointing you to where they are.
Endless Applications for AR Technology
There are so many possibilities for incorporating AR technology into your current digital platforms. Existing apps are already improving workplace efficiency, transforming the customer experience and delivering immersive entertainment. But with technology such as Apple’s ARKit and Microsoft’s 3D Builder so readily available, it is now easier than ever to create your own, bespoke AR features tailored to your business.