US tech giants Apple and Google are both adopting a ‘mixed reality’ (MR) strategy as an introduction to full augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
Mixed reality combines the real world seen through a camera lens, with augmented elements. Pokemon Go is a good early example, but the next stages will see the idea taken much further, with emerging business applications and location-based services.
Google’s new ARCore SDK (an evolution of its Project Tango) can now be used on more phones because it does away with the need for depth perception.
“We’ve been developing the fundamental technologies that power mobile AR over the last three years with Tango, and ARCore is built on that work,” the company says in a blog post.
“But it works without any additional hardware, which means it can scale across the Android ecosystem. ARCore will run on millions of devices, starting today with the Pixel and Samsung’s S8, running 7.0 Nougat and above.”
The post continues: “We’re targeting 100 million devices at the end of the preview. We’re working with manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, LG, ASUS, and others to make this possible with a consistent bar for quality and high performance.”
Apple, meanwhile, has been demonstrating its ARkit for iOS – first mentioned back in July.
A Walking Dead mixed reality game and an augmentation of Ikea’s product catalogue – allowing users to see what they would look like in customers’ homes – will be among the launch titles when iOS11 leaves beta in the coming weeks, possibly with AR glasses in tow.
Microsoft isn’t being left behind either, with companies like Acer already slashing the cost of helmets for mixed and augmented reality via Windows Mixed Reality (formerly Windows Holographic).
While some of the early use cases for the technology might seem frivolous, they prove the market and there’s no doubting that we’ll be seeing a lot more from VR/AR/MR in the future.
Expect to see many more consumer devices that combine the real with the virtual at next years’ Consumer Electronics Show (CES), with business variants not too far behind.