Augmented reality is poised to revolutionize the way we use our devices. Thus, it’s no surprise that tech giants like Apple are already devoting resources to their own  innovations to establish themselves among the top augmented reality companies. With AR development kits and new iOS features, Apple is offering developers the chance to take advantage of this technology in exciting ways.

The following are just a few of Apple’s latest AR initiatives:

Simultaneous Localization and Mapping

SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) is a new feature in iOS 11 that will be of particular interest to AR developers, especially since the iPhone 8 is optimized for such innovations.

SLAM allows applications to identify a user’s location with greater accuracy and specificity than ever before. From an AR developer’s perspective, this means that apps will soon be able to use a vast range of real-world locations as triggers for virtual elements. For instance, a user will be able to point their phone at a restaurant or bar, and receive social alerts telling them if any of their friends have checked in there.

Retailers and business owners could also use this feature to provide users with valuable information about a given location. Imagine pointing at a restaurant with your phone and having the menu pop-up on your screen. SLAM makes these types of applications possible.

Educational Applications

By focusing on the benefits of localization as it pertains to AR, Apple has paved the way for new educational experiences. In any given city, nearly every single spot is brimming with history. Developers could soon release apps that offer users fascinating information about their current location. Thanks to augmented reality, this information will be superimposed right on a user’s screen. Once headsets become more widespread, users could tour cities and envision them as they might have looked centuries ago with AR overlays.

Retail Opportunities

Retailers like Lowe’s have already begun to explore potential applications for SLAM. Their Innovation Labs demoed a product that helps users find certain items in a store. Future incarnations of such an app could also alert users to items they might like to buy based on their purchase histories, or even provide them with special deals for products throughout a store. Thanks to SLAM, retailers can now pinpoint a user’s location with tremendous accuracy.

Gaming

AR will dramatically change the mobile gaming experience for many. Pokemon Go! was in many ways the turning point for AR, proving that the average consumer is likely to be very interested in this technology.

With features like SLAM, mobile online games can insert characters directly into a user’s immediate environment. Soon, instead of conquering rival armies or fighting off hordes of zombies in a virtual world on a smartphone screen, gamers will be slaying foes hiding right behind their bedroom doors.

Blending SLAM and Social Experiences

Like SLAM, improved facial recognition technology will also enhance AR products. For example, you may soon be able to arrive at a large event and immediately find your friends in the crowd through an app that determines your location while also scanning the crowd for faces it recognizes from your social contacts.

This will reverse one of the less-appealing trends the digital age has given rise to: People spending far too much time staring at their phones instead of the world. Through augmented reality, people will once again have reasons to look in front of them, bridging the gap between technology and genuine interaction. Now that’s something everyone can support.

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