Apple, Google Enter the AR Fray

September 12, 2017 // By William Wong, Electronic Design
Augmented reality (AR) can be implemented in a number of ways. One of the primary approaches is to use AR glasses; another is to use a tablet or smartphone equipped with a camera (e.g., games like Pokémon Go). Fundamentally, both approaches aim to deliver a view of reality overlaid with computer-generated content.

One might think that Apple’s new ARKit and Google’s ARCore will rescue developers from AR oblivion, but a quick look around highlights a plethora of AR options targeting a range of platforms that are already available. Having heavy hitters like Apple and Google in the mix will not hurt, but the likes of Microsoft and Intel have been hitting the AR gong for quite a while already. Likewise, solutions like Scope AR’s WorkLink (see figure 1) have been available for a number of years.

Fig. 1: Scope AR’s WorkLink is a deployable AR
solution that that works with tablets and AR glasses
to provide support for training and support in the

back as an industrial tool (see figure 2). The main difference between this effort and its ARCore is the target audience. The Google Glass hardware is actually paired with software from Google solution providers that work directly with the customers.

Fig. 2: Google Glass is back, in the factory.
Customers actually work with Google solution
providers instead of getting hardware and software
directly from Google

Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore target iOS and Android developers respectively, with smartphones being the target platform. These look to take advantage of the massive smartphone population that is dominated by iOS and Android. Likewise, even midrange smartphones are coming equipped with high-resolution cameras that blend well with AR solutions. Of course, Apple and Google’s offerings highlight the importance of AR.

“Google and Apple’s AR technology is exciting and confirms what we’ve believed at Meta since before our inception: Augmented reality is the next paradigm of computing,” said David Oh, head of developer relations at Meta. “We are working closely with developers to design the most productive and intuitive AR applications, in line with Meta’s just-published Spatial Design Guidelines. Once these applications offer a seamless, natural and productive experience, we are excited to see how quickly and easily these high-quality apps will be ported to glasses and drive the entire industry forward.”