Coding augmented reality (AR) isn’t always fun or easy. But the results could be worth it, as AR finds greater purpose in some of the more mundane aspects of business.
At WWDC 2019, Apple introduced RealityKit, which offers up a host of cool features that round out augmented-reality development nicely. It can track humans in real-time and return a model skeleton of their activity. At a media scrum during WWDC, I was shown an app that helps those with back injuries get back into shape by leveraging this technology to monitor ergonomics during exercises.
RealityKit also supports multiplayer functionality, as well as something called ‘people occlusion’ that allows a digital object placed in a 3D space to exist more naturally; humans can walk around it in a scene, and anyone in the same AR environment will see that happen as if the object were physically there.
We tend to see these features as niche, but they’ll arrive everywhere at some point. “With the introduction of people occlusion, ARKit 3 opens up the possibilities for more immersive applications in the B2B landscape,” Louis Jonckheere, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Showpad, tells Dice. “For example, sales presentations can be taken to a whole new level, making the demonstration of complex 3D objects much more realistic. Prospects will be able to engage with the scale of complex products in their unique environments now, as if the equipment or machinery were actually in the building.”
In other words, new tech is coming for those boring old business purposes, too.
Motion capture and multiplayer will also find favor among those presenting to clients. This, alongside AR scene identification, will likely help anyone presenting to potential customers or clients show off the product in its best use-case scenario.
“Being able to share [an] AR experience with every person in the room sparks conversations in a way we never imagined was possible,” Janckheere says. For tech professionals, this thinking should hint that AR is more than just a flashy fad. Once company stakeholders become aware it’s possible to utilize it to increase sales and/or engagement, expect them to encourage your team to pursue AR. Large companies such as IKEA and Target are already using augmented reality, providing a good argument for how AR can become useful in many aspects of business.
The missing link is a heads-up display, which we posit is coming in the next year or so. Previous reports suggest Apple will launch glasses alongside a new ‘rOS’ platform in 2020 (yes, a separate (and sketchy) source suggests Apple has scrapped its plans for an AR headset, which seems unlikely). Because augmented reality is going to cast its shadow on every corner of tech in the next few years, we suggest taking a look at your processes to see just how it can fit into your company’s roadmap.
Are sales presentations fun? No. Are morning stand-ups interesting? Usually not. Will they be better with augmented reality? Undoubtedly. As a tech professional, you may not be on the front lines, presenting to clients or managing people, but chances are you’ll be tasked with making augmented reality features useful for your team or company sooner than you think.