Two New Features May Change AR Forever

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology bursting with potential after its spectacular debut. The big question now is how tech’s biggest companies will leverage the format.

Amazon is one of the first out the proverbial gate with “AR View” for its mobile app. Point your phone or tablet camera at a surface, and a virtual object will appear there. It’s similar to what IKEA offers with its augmented-reality app, but Amazon has all kinds of virtual objects available for display. You can outfit an entire home, virtually.

Soon enough, augmented reality is something every app or service will have to consider, especially when it comes to e-commerce. In Amazon’s case, it’s not impossible to imagine “AR View” turning into an API: with a simple API call, other retailers could easily implement AR into their own apps, rather than let Amazon virtually display their products via its own app. In any case, augmented reality could soon become a major component in e-commerce.

Speaking of giving new assets to developers, Google has launched Poly, a library of 3D images for use within AR and VR environments. Many of the images are published under the creative commons licensing scheme, which only requires attribution if they’re used. Images are available as OBJ files, a common file-type for 3D objects.

Poly isn’t limited to ARCore, Google’s augmented reality offering for Android. Its files can be used anywhere, even within Apple’s ARKit framework.

A library of free 3D objects is a welcome sight, but there’s a bit more to it. This early investment by Google could make Poly into a go-to hub for tons of objects. As with Amazon’s new AR capability, there’s a potential for Poly to become a boilerplate service that evolves over time, even if AR progresses into hardware areas such as glasses or head’s up displays. The big question now is whether other big tech companies will try to standardize some aspect of augmented reality on their own platforms.

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