Augmented reality has been the buzz of the tech town since Apple revealed its augmented reality software Apple ARKit at the World Wide Developers Conference in June (WWDC 2017). Later Google released a competitor ARCore providing tools to build augmented reality applications with better features.
Following their footsteps, brands like Facebook, Amazon, Shopify, and others have been investing and growing augmented reality features into their applications.
Augmented reality is aimed to become the next big industry with $80 billion revenue by 2025
If you are also one of them hoping to take advantage of this lucrative market, I am sure you have questions on where to start with augmented reality. Which technology is better? ARKit or ARCore. What are the features that you should be looking for?
Let’s compare the two top augmented reality software out there and learn which one’s better.
What Is ARKit?
ARKit is a platform that helps developers build AR games and applications on iOS devices. It uses the camera, process, and motion sensors on iOS devices to create immersive experiences.
The ARKit framework also provides 3D object scanning and world tracking. From ARKit 3 the framework introduced people occlusion, motion capture, face tracking, and collaborative sessions.
A 2020 update brought in LiDAR capabilities starting with the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max and the iPad Pro.
LiDAR (short for “Light Detection and Ranging”) determines the distance from a device to a surface using the time that it takes for a pulse of light to move from the device to the surface and back. Each pulse of light generates a single point. Collections of these points, called “point clouds” are used to create a topographical map of the user’s surroundings.
LiDAR Scanner delivers cutting-edge depth-sensing capabilities allowing digital objects to appear to be located behind physical objects and people. Measuring capabilities, motion capture, and object physics within AR applications are also improved.
The latest augmented reality software, ARKIT5, has Location Anchors to London and more cities across the United States, allowing you to create AR experiences for specific places. ARKit 5 also features improvements to Motion Tracking and support for Face Tracking in the Ultra-Wide camera on iPad Pro.
Fundamental Features Of ARKit
ARKit has a unique way of processing and analyzing our environments. The camera maps out the environment and the core features help in recognizing the walls, floors, etc.
Some of the main features of ARKit are:
Motion capture in augmented reality is used to alter figurative 3D objects in real-world environments. Motion capture typically involves tracking parts of the body by infra-red cameras to obtain streamed position data. We can realize real human movement by applying this data to a 3D model.
By understanding body position and movement as a series of joints and bones, you can use motion and poses as an input to the AR experience.
Height estimation improves on iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPad Pro in all apps built with the augmented reality software, without any code changes.
The advanced scene understanding capabilities built into the LiDAR Scanner allow this API to use per-pixel depth information about the surrounding environment.
When combined with the 3D mesh data generated by Scene Geometry, this depth information makes virtual object occlusion even more realistic by enabling instant placement of virtual objects and blending them seamlessly with their physical surroundings.
Occlusion is a feature through which virtual objects can be hidden or occluded by real-world objects. Virtual objects won’t pass in front of people or other objects. They remain on the same surface irrespective of the real-world objects and environments.
ARKit experiences are more immersive while also enabling green screen-style effects in almost any environment. Depth estimation improves on iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPad Pro in all apps built with the augmented reality software, without any code changes.
This is the plane detection feature that helps determine the attributes and properties of the environment. It creates a topological map of your space with labels identifying floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, and seats.
What Is ARCore?
ARCore is Google’s SDK platform in reply to Apple’s ARKit. ARCore functionalities are dependent mostly on the main camera and the device’s built-in motion sensors.
The camera detects “feature points” in the surrounding area. Clusters of feature points are used to identify likely planes in the physical world, where planes are continuous surfaces like walls or floors and ceilings, or parts of larger structures like tabletops.
Unlike ARKit, ARCore can be used to develop experiences for iOS devices. Some of the APIs are available across Android and iOS to enable shared AR experiences.
Google recently developed a Depth API that works on most Android devices made after December 2019 but that will come native on the Galaxy Note 10+, the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and later devices.
Fundamental Features Of ARCore
ARCore uses a process called simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM, to understand where the phone is relative to the world around it.
Visual information is captured by combining the inertial measurements from the device’s IMU to estimate the pose (position and orientation) of the camera relative to the world over time.
The pose of the device creates a virtual camera that renders 3D content with the augmented reality software. The rendered can be overlaid on real-world objects which blend digital and real world.
ARCore achieves plane detection of various environments by detecting feature points and planes.
ARCore looks for clusters of feature points that appear to lie on common horizontal or vertical surfaces, like tables or walls, and makes these surfaces available to your app as planes. Using this augmented reality software you can place virtual objects resting on flat surfaces.
ARCore can detect information about the lighting of its environment and provide you with the average intensity and color correction of a given camera image.
This information lets you light your virtual objects under the same conditions as the environment around them, increasing the sense of realism.
Using different APIs, ARCore enables your phone to create depth maps, images that contain data about the distance between surfaces from a given point, using the main RGB camera from a supported device.
This helps in differentiating the objects from the real objects and accurately collide with observed surfaces.
Each augmented reality software has its own merits and demerits that make it unique. As we are having both Android and iOS users, there is a necessity to build separate experiences on both ARKit and ARCore.
As the augmented reality universe expands there’s the hope of new updates and new tools where we can see a healthy competition. The tech giants are always on the lookout for innovations and it’s our responsibility to give augmented reality its new vision.