Apple are currently gathering a team of creative luminaries to rival the Justice League. Not to fight crime unfortunately, but to gather some of the best thinkers and doers in the business to make augmented reality possible on mobile. Apple and Pixar are collaborating to develop the usdz format, while Adobe are supporting the format in Creative Cloud and creating a new AR development app. With AR seemingly just around the corner, we take a look at what the advent of the usdz format means for creatives.
Usdz is a new file format for augmented reality content sharing on your iPhone or iPad. It’s co-created by Apple and Pixar as a zero-compression, unencrypted zip archive of the USD (Universal Scene Description) format, making USD optimised for sharing on mobile devices. The USD format has been used for years by Pixar in their 3D animation, but the format was never able to be implemented on mobile devices due to the large file sizes. Now with the usdz format, iOS 12 users will have the ability to experience AR content and share it, all on their mobile devices.
You might have seen Apple’s AR demo at WWDC 2018, where they showed a 3D-generated guitar on a real table, but there are many other examples of AR being used already, such as Kabaq’s augmented reality food app, or displaying furniture in your front room with the Ikea Place app. While these examples are not ground-breaking, we are just beginning to see the potential real world uses of AR – with enhanced mobile AR capabilities that the usdz format enables, these apps are only going to get better.
AR is beginning to touch on more complex mobile gaming too. At WWDC, we saw an example of an AR game using Lego, where two users could interact with the same 3D world. From the looks of the examples we have seen, AR gaming will probably be best suited to the mobile format – like the hugely successful Pokémon Go app. AR mobile gaming apps are going to help create a fun immersive gaming experience, which can be used to promote a brand and engage its audience.
Potentially one of the most exciting uses of AR, was watching the images being pulled from a news article and moved around. The potential for manipulating schematics, seeing the components and editing parts of complex designs has echoes of Tony Stark in Iron Man. The usdz format will mean that people will be able to get the full use of AR technology on mobile, without having to lug around an expensive computer just to run it. Print catalogues and articles can become truly immersive experiences, wherever the user happens to be.
At WWDC, Abhay Parasnis, Adobe's executive vice-president and CTO, took to the stage and announced that the company was working with Apple to bring native usdz support to Adobe Creative Cloud, and are developing a dedicated app, which is currently called Project Aero. This means you’ll soon have the chance to start creating amazing AR experiences inside your favourite creative apps. Take a quick look at Adobe’s Project Aero preview here.
Apple announced ARKit 2, which is a platform that allows developers to integrate shared experiences, persistent AR experiences tied to a specific location, object detection and image tracking, to make AR apps even more dynamic. ARKit 2 also extends support for image detection and tracking, making it possible to detect 3D objects like toys or sculptures, and adds the ability to automatically apply reflections of the real world onto AR objects. Developers will use this alongside the usdz file format to make these powerful AR experiences possible on Apple devices.
If you’ve ever used Snapchat or Facebook filters, you might have spent countless hours putting funny glasses on yourself or celebrating festivities with special filters. You don’t have to wait for Adobe Project Aero to start experimenting, as social messaging apps with AR features are beginning to release development tools already. If you’re a Mac user, take a look at this free AR tool for Facebook called AR Studio, or check out Lens Studio for Snapchat. You can use these for making custom AR filters with your company’s branding for marketing products or campaigns on messaging apps. When AR support is released in Creative Cloud, you’ll be ahead of the pack and well versed in what you can do with the tools.
For marketing products, the future seems to be a world where we see 3D renderings of products literally jump out at us. Retailers across a number of industries have already integrated AR technology into the in-store experience, like Charlotte Tilbury who used ‘Magic Mirrors’ to try on virtual shades of makeup. IKEA Place is an app that allows users to place virtual furniture into their homes to see how it would fit before they choose to buy. It means that by the time you go look in store, the only thing you need to know is how comfy it is.
The BIC DrawyBook app is amazing, not just because most adults would have wanted this as a child, but because this app is free, inspirational and encourages kids to enjoy reading and drawing. The app brings your child’s drawings to life and makes them part of an interactive story. This is a really simple use of AR technology but is brilliantly executed and not only is it free, it’s ad free.
Apple and Adobe collaborating to develop AR technology is great news for its future. AR development tools will be coming to the most popular creative software, to create content for the most popular creative tech. Apple’s mobile-focused approach to AR, with ARKit 2 and the usdz format, will bring immersive AR experiences to iPhone and iPad users across the world. And with usdz support from Adobe, content creators will have apps and tools to develop future AR campaigns they are familiar with.
Hardware and software able to work with AR is now essential technology for content creators looking to get ahead of the pack. If you already own a full Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you’ll have access to all the AR tools as soon as they are officially launched. If you are interested in AR but aren’t a CC subscriber, you can check out packages and pricing here. We’d recommend getting hold of an iPhone and iPad Pro, so you can test out any AR content on both devices and see how the experience differs on each. We’d also recommend the new MacBook Pro for creating the content, as its sheer processing power and speed will stop you getting held up by slow loading times.
If you want to know more about AR or need some kit recommendations, give us a call on 03332 409 204 or email DandP@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.
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