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Apps | Development | R&D | Technology

AR and VR: It’s coming Chrome!

If you can forgive us for the England football inspired pun – we’re just a tad excited about reaching the semi final! We’re also very excited about AR and VR here at ICE. You may have noticed some mobile manufacturers releasing Virtual Reality (VR) headsets over the past few years, and some of that VR content spread to the web through browser-based VR viewers. This VR content could be viewed without a VR headset – through a ‘magic window’ making use of the rotation of your phone, or mouse movements on a computer. These advancements have led to VR content being easily viewed without the creators needing to worry about what devices people own.

Augmented Reality (AR) is experiencing a similar bridging of experiences, Apple, Microsoft and Google have been working their socks off (see this video from Google for an example) to improve and integrate Augmented Reality functionality into various phones and laptops. With the launch of Google ARCore, Apple ARKit and Microsoft Mixed Reality; having the power to augment content on more devices without any need for special markers or fancy cameras is opening up the possibilities of AR for wider audience than ever before. The prospects of being able to view AR content on the web too present us with more opportunities – products could be viewed and rotated in 3D on the web page, or even placed on the floor so that the user can walk around the object and get a sense of scale and immediacy that images and video alone cannot convey.

Changing the game

When we think about browsing the web, there is an expected standard of experience. For example, an e-commerce site may have a few photographs of a product on sale, or a blog may have an embedded video explaining more about the article. Recent developments in web technology and handheld devices are opening up the possibilities of a more immersive web experience which will allow us to engage with content in ways we never could before. Bringing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (otherwise known together as ‘XR’ or Mixed Reality) to the web removes the complications of convincing users to download an app to engage with content. It really is a game changer, in the world of AR. You can share a link to someone else and they will be able to see the same content on their device and experience it in the same way, regardless of what device they own is a tantalising prospect; and we are very excited about the possibilities of it in our projects here at ICE.

With WebGL-driven 3D experiences becoming more accessible as well, our expectations of the web are about to change in a big way. The potential for more engaging and diverse visualisation is becoming more accessible across multiple sectors. Now is definitely a great time to think about what kind of content could have a big impact with the current advancements in mainstream digital technology. Take a look at some of our projects in the world of AR for some inspiration, and watch this space!

Top image courtesy of Google.
Bottom image is SofAR, an ICE App.

By Rob Farthing
Posted: 9th July 2018
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