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ARKit is a Goldmine for VR Developers

Possibly one of the most fun accounts on Twitter in recent days has been @MadewithARKit, which curates the best new pieces of content created in Apple’s new ARKit toolbox. The possibilities for VR developers that want to use the technology are literally endless, and if you use Unity, it’s very easy to convert VR objects into ARKit. It’s also quick — you can make an object in a program like Google Blocks and then put it in ARKit, where it can interact with the real world.

Developer and musician Andrew Deutsch used Blocks and ARKit to create a piano playing character who could then perform on any surface, including a bar top or an outdoor cafe table. He also made a piece where flowers popped up all over a dirty NYC subway platform. Deutsch is planning on spending more time experimenting with the medium, too. “It’s a brand new world of creation,” he says. “I’m following what a lot of people are making and the main thing is the they are having fun with it.”

VR artist Cabbibo, for instance, has shared a number of pieces, including one where flowers grow out of a sidewalk.

It also appears that he spent some of this time watching Netflix creating swirling patterns around his living room.

But as much fun as it can be to create artsy projects, ARKit can also be the basis for many practical applications. At a recent ARKit meetup in New York, one company demoed a piece that allowed users to scan menus and visualize food items — great for people with visual difficulties, non-native language speakers, or people who deal with reading comprehension issues. There’s also a great use case for decorators or anyone who has struggled to buy a new sofa without knowing exactly how it will look in their living room. And of course, as use cases in the commercial space grow, brands will want to get in on the game, and companies like Vertebrae can help developers monetize their projects.

As VR grows and changes as a medium, it is bound to start intersecting with AR in a number of ways. Nexus Interactive Arts, for instance, created basic inside-out positional tracking and pass-through AR for a Google Cardboard headset. Basically, in this scenario, rather than simply seeing a point cloud when the user was near an object in the real world, they would see a 3D image or work of art, thus turning every tree and rock into a masterpiece. Normal VR took this a step further by mirroring the actions of someone painting in the Vive with a character so users could see what was being created in real time.

For developers, the time to start exploring ARKit is now, when it’s still relatively underground. Once the mainstream finds out about the technology and what it can be used to create, the gold rush will be on.