This week Apple announced two new devices, and with them iOS 11, and Apple’s ARKit. ARKit was announced at WWDC and there have been some cool demos circulating this summer utilizing ARKit, most notably this remake of A-ha’s “Take on Me” (which is definitely worth checking out!) However, this was the first time we could see some compelling demos of the technology on the iPhone. During the demo of the iPhone 8 we saw some other great demos of technology for gaming, a ‘night sky’ constellation map, as well as, a major league baseball game where a spectator in the stands could access information and stats about players on base, just by viewing the field through their phone.
This kind of rich augmented reality has very interesting applications in retail, everything from enhanced in store shopping experiences to product recommendations based on a certain surrounding to virtually trying on apparel. All these future experiences will be inherently local, because all AR relies on merging the screen with the physical world. Look at what Pokemon Go did with a far more rudimentary level of technology than what was demonstrated at the Apple event.
While many will spend the next weeks and months debating over whether the iPhone X is or isn’t as exciting as expected, whether facial recognition is a suitable replacement for Touch ID, and the relative merits of wireless charging, retailers should be thinking about how they will incorporate Augmented Reality, localized data and experiences into their strategy for 2018. Today’s demonstration and ARKit on iOS 11 are bringing AR technology to the mainstream and enabling new local experiences previously unimaginable.