October 2, 2018 – Niklas Slotte
For us at Sayduck, and for our manufacturing and retailing customers, the promise of AR (Augmented Reality) has always been about understanding products in certain context. The blend of ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ is a powerful mix and for most of us it has the potential to become the cure to what we like to call ‘The Imagination Problem’. The inability to understand, for example, how a new sofa would look at home is something most of us can easily relate to – and AR has the potential to change all of that.
Browser enabled AR on iOS 12
With the latest release of iOS 12, Apple is making AR more accessible than ever before. AR experiences can now be launched directly from Safari as part of a new feature called AR Quick Look, allowing instant access for shoppers to better understand products in 3D and Augmented Reality.
The possibility to go from a web-page to an AR experience with a tap is completely new. Previously, AR experiences required dedicated apps to be installed. This seamless transition makes trying out virtual products and seeing them in the context they could be in reality simple and straightforward. This should be beneficial especially for design products with aesthetic value where understanding size and proportions in context to surroundings is essential.
The AR Quick Look feature on iOS 12 is not only tied to Safari as there is a wider OS level support for the feature – which technically relies on Apple’s new USDZ format, a single-file packaging of all required 3D Data used by a Universal Scene Description (USD) file. Originally introduced by Pixar and now supported by Apple, USD is another contender in the ever-evolving wars of 3D file formats. Our prediction is that for now this format will only be supported by iOS devices and not for example Android, which is known to support the semi-new glTF 2.0 (GL Transmission Format).
Discover AR Quick Look with Sayduck
Our experience of AR Quick Look
Some of the great things we noticed with AR Quick Look and the new USDZ file format:
- Creating and adding an AR Quick Look experience to a website has been made very simple. A 3D model needs to be created in the supported USDZ format, linked to an image using standard HTML tags – and that’s it!
- There is no need to separately create contact shadows for the 3D object as AR Quick Look takes care of this. In addition, color management and environment mapping is done nicely out-of-the box.
- Transition from object view (seeing the model first in 3D) to AR is seamless and ARKit provides great tracking & scale-estimation.
- The easy setup and straight forward approach to AR comes with the cost of completely exposing the USDZ file to anybody visiting an AR Quick Look enabled website. Our experience tells us that some companies are very aware of their 3D assets and might find this problematic.
- Objects in AR mode can currently only be interacted with (moved & rotated) on the horizontal plane, making support for wall items and ceiling items challenging (objects need to have a fixed height). Our guess is that this will be addressed in a future update.
- Support for efficiently handling product variants (additional colors / materials) is missing along with support for configurable products. Currently every product variant will need to be created as a separate USDZ file.
These limitations aside, the latest developments are in any case incredibly positive and has the potential to make AR finally mainstream and a second nature experience.
At Sayduck we have already developed support for AR Quick Look and welcome merchants, manufacturers and retailers to try out the new feature. Get in touch and request your demo!
CEO & Co-Founder, Sayduck