Apple’s ARKit Will Usher in an Online Retail Revolution
Apple released ARKit at the company‘s developer conference WWDC a few weeks ago. (Watch the introduction here.) ARKit will come to iOS this fall with iOS 11 and it is the single biggest addition to iOS in years. With ARKit, developers will be able to implement augmented reality in their apps. ARKit makes augmented reality very easy to implement, compared to before. With ARKit the OS is doing all the heavy lifting.
There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of years about virtual reality. But it is augmented reality, not VR,1 that will really change how we interact with computers.
Augmented reality represents the camera becoming a new input/output method. Snapchat2 and Pokemon Go were just the first representations of how powerful AR will be. This new interaction method will be on par with multitouch.
The impact of ARKit itself is unleashing the potential of AR for the simple reason that it is becoming easier/less costly to do AR on iOS now. It can hardly be overstated how important this is.
This means also new ways for online retailers to not just present products but to create a user experience not possible before.
Here is a hobby project putting a virtual Tesla car in the driveway:
Projects like this being made just for the fun of it show how comparatively easy to implement AR is becoming with ARKit.
When it launches, the app will let customers choose which IKEA product they want and then use an iPhone or iPad powered by ARKit to see how the IKEA furniture looks in their own home before it’s purchased. IKEA has been doing this for years now, including an early version which required users to scan pages of an IKEA catalogue to view AR furniture, but the company said that Apple’s platform will greatly increase the consistency and quality of the experience.
This is rather uninspired.
Now imagine a home&living online retailer, say, like Wayfair, not just offering AR furniture placement (which soon enough will become table stakes) but also intelligently analysing your room and offering items that would fit in and placing them for you. Just to inspire you. Similar things are imaginable for fashion.
AR and machine learning together will lead to new, exciting ways in discoverability.
The Verge has a summary of more ARKit experiments:
It looks like the future but it can be easily implemented now.
This is of course iOS only. Android certainly will follow in due time to offer an AR framework for developers as well.
For strong iOS markets like the US, this is a no-brainer. But even beyond that, iOS just became the experimentation field for AR.
For online retailers this means that the paths for product presentation and discoverability became much more versatile.
- VR is immersive, limiting its usecases. VR may well become a big deal down the line. But before that will happen, AR will change how we interact with computers. And overall, I suspect AR to become a far bigger deal than VR, in general. ↩
- Snapchat lenses are augmented reality. ↩
- Not affiliated with Apple. ↩