What is ARKit? How Does It Work?



Apple has been investing heavily in Augmented Reality, the cutting-edge technology that overlays virtual objects like text, images, videos, and 3D objects over the user’s view of the real world. The launch of ARKit is a testimony to the fact that Apple is betting big on Augmented Reality and considers it to be the future. In fact, Tim Cook himself believes that this immersive technology will be as revolutionary as the smartphone itself. This article gives you a complete understanding of ARKit, how it works and its features.

What is Apple’s ARKit?

ARKit is Apple’s software development kit for developers to build Augmented Reality apps and games for the iOS devices. It helps to simplify the process of building Augmented Reality experiences for app developers by combining the technologies of motion tracking, scanning images and objects using the iOS device’s front or rear camera and positioning & displaying the 3D models in the real world.

Apple launched ARKit in 2017 integrated with iOS 11 that allowed developers to use Xcode (Apple’s software development environment on Macbook) to build Augmented Reality Apps.

How Apple’s ARKit works?

ARKit does three things basically – tracking, understanding the scene and rendering.

It tracks the position of the device in relation to the real world as well as objects like faces and posters.

Scene understanding scans the surroundings and provides information to the app, the developer or the user about it.

Rendering actually means contextual placement of 3D objects in the scene captured by the iOS device’s camera

Since 2017, Apple has been making enhancements and adding new features to the ARKit. Let’s review them:

ARKit Initial Release

The Initial release of ARKit supported orientation tracking, world tracking, and plane detection.

Orientation tracking helps to augment far off objects and places away from the device’s immediate surroundings. ARKit tracks rotation in three degrees of freedom using the internal sensors of the device. It only tracks the orientation in a spherical virtual environment without tracking the changes in the device’s physical position.

World tracking helps to track the viewing orientation of the device as well as changes in the physical position of the device, unlike orientation tracking.

The initial release supported only the detection of horizontal planes and any deviations such as bumps & curves could easily distort the attempt to place 3D objects accurately.

New Features added to ARKit 1.5

In addition to the general improvements made to enhance the accuracy and quality of the Augmented Reality experiences built using ARKit, this release could support the detection, tracking, and placement of 3D objects even on vertical planes. Apple added basic tracking of 2D images to ARKit 1.5. This allows ARKit apps to recognize markers such as movie posters or painting on a wall.

New Features in ARKit 2.0

Apple added ARImageTrackingConfiguration to ARKit 2.0 which enables developers to build apps that mainly focus on 2D image recognition. ARkit enables the developers to detect 3D objects like furniture, toys or sculptures. It also enables the developers to build apps that allow multiple users to simultaneously view the Augmented Reality experiences. ARKkit 2.0 supports environment texturing which helps to render the objects in a realistic way.

Here at SMACAR Solutions, we work on cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and IoT. If you are looking to get started on these technologies, then look no further. Schedule a consultation now to talk to our experts.


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