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Appless AR will make AR go mainstream

by | Aug 7, 2018

You may think that the first word in the title of this article is a typo, but I wasn’t trying to type “Apple’s AR”–I meant app-less AR, as in “AR without an app.” Apple is, however, coming out with a major feature in iOS 12 next month that will make app-less AR a new reality.

In June, Apple announced a new feature called AR Quick Look, along with a new open standard file type called USDZ. There were a few articles written on it at the time, but nothing since. Meanwhile, Seek has built a solution that helps bring this amazing feature to life.

One of the biggest barriers to widespread adoption that AR has faced up to now has been the need for an app to view AR content. Advertisers have been attempting to use AR for years, and only recently did apps get to the point where the content was pretty decent, thanks to ARKit and ARCore. IKEA is a perfect example of a company that has used the newest AR technologies in its app to vastly improve the at-home furniture shopping experience. As can be seen in the picture below, consumers can select a piece of furniture they are considering purchasing and view it through their device’s camera in their own space.

But there has still existed a major friction point–consumers have to download an app to see the experience. In speaking with representatives of another large company that sells many different products, including furniture, they said that only 8% of traffic to their catalog and site happens through their app, which has AR features. This means that 92% of consumers are missing this incredible AR experience.

Apple’s new AR Quick Look is going to change everything. In iOS 12, having the same buying experience detailed above will be available directly from a mobile web browser–no app required. The experience is simple. Tap on the image of the product as long as it has the new AR Quick Look symbol next to it, and the object opens in a 3D view. Then tap on AR, and it pulls up the camera view, placing the object in the user’s environment. See the demo below.

This new capability opens up a whole new world of possibilities, but there are still a few drawbacks, some of which may be overcome with the passage of time and progress by other stakeholders. For example, Android is now playing catch-up. They most likely have something in the works, but many companies are getting ready to launch USDZ files on their sites, and Android users will feel left out. Desktop viewers can’t view AR objects either. iPhone users that don’t update to iOS 12 will be left behind, and phones earlier than iPhone 6s will not have ARKit, so they will also miss out.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done in the ecosystem. But the important thing is that there will be roughly 1 billion mobile devices out there that can enjoy app-less AR as soon as they update to iOS 12. Thus, every product-based company in the world needs to be working on getting 3D models of its products ready for this tech advancement. Furniture companies, restaurants, car dealers, and virtually any enterprise that wants to allow its customers to see what its products look like in the customer’s own surroundings need to be ready for the advent of AR working directly from a website. Another massive hurdle companies will need to overcome is converting all of their 3D models from their current file types into the new USDZ format.

SeekView, a new service offered by Seek, solves many of these issues. Most notably, it solves the issue of falling back to another view if the phone or computer isn’t AR-enabled. A SeekView link detects the device being used, and then pulls up the proper file type and viewer, directly from a single link on a website. An example of it can be seen here. Further, once Android devices have an AR Quick Look feature, SeekView links will get smarter and begin using the new protocol to launch the view. SeekView can accept any 3D file format–GLTF, OBJ, FBX, COLLADA, and many more. SeekView converts the object into several compatible formats and spits out one link to be used on a website.

Think of SeekView like YouTube for 3D files. YouTube receives a video, and provides a link that can then be embedded on a website. If YouTube upgrades its streaming capabilities, or a new type of screen comes out, YouTube adds new support to the system, and the video seamlessly plays on the new device. There is no need to upload a new video–the link just got smarter. That’s what SeekView does with 3D files, enabling AR on a website, making it shareable within social media, and of course viewable within an app.

AR Quick Look coming next month to 1 billion devices is a major step forward in the journey for AR to go mainstream, but SeekView will allow enterprises and consumers to fully and effectively harness this new app-less reality.

#AR #augmentedreality #USDZ #QuickLook #mobile #web #webAR #webXR #advertising #marketing


Jon Cheney | CEO Seek

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