VHS, Betamax, cassette, CD, DVD, download… Even Windows and Apple’s OS.
They’re all technologies that have, at one point, competed for supremacy. And the best doesn’t always win out. For example, Betamax was often seen as being superior to VHS, but VHS won. You can blame marketing for that.
So here in today’s fast-moving world of expanding AR capabilities, the two main protagonists, Google and Apple, are locked in that battle.
In the Google corner – ARCore and in the Apple corner – ARKit. Seconds out. In fact, Google may have stolen an early march on its biggest rival.
How? By integrating Augmented Reality capability into its popular Chrome browser – that’s the mobile and desktop versions, by the way. Those clever boffins at Googleplex (many with a brain the size of an airship) know web designers, media companies and the creative world in general will seize the opportunity. It’s currently a prototype, but rest assured it will be unleashed on the world as soon as possible.
So-called ‘creatives’ will be able to create virtual 3D objects that can be embedded into websites for desktop viewing, while also being downloadable via a mobile device. These downloaded objects could then be placed into real world scenarios.
Essentially, they explain how the power of AR in mobile devices can also work alongside the desktop web. Think of it as opening up access to AR technology to as many people as possible.
Imagine, for example, a 3D model of a space suit, designed for the web and viewed within a classroom. If this is loaded on a suitable desktop browser, pupils interact and view it from all angles. A bit like an animated gif, but so much better. Still within the desktop environment, students could then place that model into different environments. A moon landing of their very own making – right there in the classroom.
That’s the beauty of AR, in being able to blend digital content with the real world.
And it continues when the same object is viewed via a mobile device. Still in the classroom, the space suit could be projected into the real world, giving pupils and chance to walk around it, see how big it is and how it works.
But let’s not stop at space suits. How about a history class, working on World War Two, being able to look at a 3D model of a Lancaster Bomber on a desktop in the classroom, before getting the chance to walk around it? Maybe use the school hall for that one!
Naturally enough, Google is keen to make sure mobile and browser-based AR becomes a must-have tool. A killer app, if you like.
So what does this mean for brands and content providers, such as Laduma? It means reaching more people, keeping eyes on the brand and giving users the chance to experience something incredible. Content creators across the world are continually breaking down boundaries in the drive to realize the fantastic commercial potential of AR and ensuring it is available as widely as possible is part of that.
As I mentioned earlier, ARCore and ARKit are both vying to be the toolkit that developers use for making AR apps and AR-focused services. So, having AR capability entrenched within Chrome – which is popular on both Android and iOS – is a smart move by Google in the search for a cross-platform advantage.
Don’t forget that by making sure AR can be accessed via browsers – and not being based on apps – Google is keeping Android users fully in the loop. Ideally for Google, it would stop them being locked out of AR apps developed exclusively for iOS.
That might be enough to stop ARCore being the next Betamax. Or even ‘Laser Disc’.