When ARKit was announced at Apple's WWDC event, I must admit my first thought was "but I've been using AR on my iPad for the last five years." It wasn't until I watched the full video from the event and dug into the logistics a little more that I came to realise that this really could be the next evolution of augmented reality.
Apps like Snapchat, MSQRD and Pokemon Go have brought the basics of AR to the masses. People get AR now and understand the power and potential of it. What Apple are now offering is a way for developers to take the creation of AR experiences to a new level of precision, detail and interactivity.
The three key elements behind this are outlined in the presentation:
1. World Tracking
This is the ability to track the device's precise location in real time. ARKit uses something called visual inertial odometry for this - the use of camera images and motion data to place the device relative to the AR experience.
2. Scene Understanding
This is the ability to detect and interact with things like surfaces, meaning that the ARkit experiences can be placed precisely in the physical world. There is even light estimation - meaning the lighting of the AR elements can adjust to match that of the actual room.
The third element is the rendering and this one is primarily for the developers - what it means in a nutshell is that developers can utilise any faniliar rendering package with ARKit - making it user friendly from the off.
ARKit in Education
So how will this benefit/impavct education? To be honest, the mind boggles at the sorts of experiences students will soon be able to engage with. I've seen a whole host of these courtesy of Sanem Avcil (Top 10 AR - VR influencer and developer) who is definitely worth following on Twitter.
Below are some of the examples Sanem has shared and my thoughts on the educational potential these demonstrate.
Imagine being able to look at different types of food and see the relative nutriotnal value of them. Amazing for food tech, sports science or primary science lessons.
AR comes to the music classroom! Whilst this has clear potential for music education, imagine the same technology being applied to actual spoken words and the impact this could have on MFL lessons...
Lots of students/schools engage with entrepreneurial projects these days - whether they be a simple bake sale or something more elaborate like a craft fair. Often students will design promotional materials for these (a great chance to practise their persuasive writing skills) and the posters etc. that they design will only stay up for a matter of days (if not hours.) Imagine putting an app in the hands of students that could allow them to design a host of AR adverts, banners etc. Engagement would be high and paper would be spared.
This one is superb and I imagine will become one of the most common educational uses of this next level AR in the classroom. Rather than roll out a paper map across a table, let a fully 3D map explode into AR and allow students to see it from any angle, distance and perspective. Add in some interactive elements and this will be huge.
This is another fairly obvious example but what I love about this one is the depth. Look at the detail as the camera moves in close! This really highlights the power of ARKit in the right developer's hands.
This is one you may well have seen as it spread across Facebook pretty broadly. The AR tape measure - practical, versatile and perfect for any measuring activities in the maths classroom. Definitely beats a dented ruler any day! Click the YouTube link on this tweet to see a compilation that includes some other great ARKit demos.
For my last example though, I'm going for the one that really blew me away: the portal.
When I watched the start of this clip for the first time, it reminded me of using the app String a few years ago to inspire creative writing. A dragon would come through a hole in the wall and then students had to write about the world that it came from (which you could peer into.)
But then the portal demo really does move to another level - as the user actually walks through the portal and the virtual world replaces the real one. This just floored me. The possibilities for creative writing using technology like this are immense, as students take Narnia like journeys through AR portals.
Exciting times ahead for sure.