The Shopify prototype is now simply a test within the company.
What if you could visualize how a room would look without any furniture by using the augmented reality capabilities of an iPhone with LiDAR? That’s the concept behind a fresh augmented reality prototype that Shopify’s Russ Maschmeyer displayed on Twitter. The demonstration, which he describes as a “reset button” for a room, is far superior to Ikea’s virtual design tool. However, for the time being, it’s only an internal test that provides an intriguing sneak peak at the kinds of experiences that could be made available by Apple’s most recent AR APIs.
Maschmeyer demonstrates in a video how the prototype can effortlessly remove the contents of a room so that the iPhone may be used to look around the empty space in augmented reality.
In later tweets, Maschmeyer describes how the technology might one day be helpful for e-commerce sites, allowing them to demonstrate to customers how new furniture might seem in a home without existing furniture getting in the way.
The prototype was created using Apple’s RoomPlan API, a developer tool that the firm unveiled at this year’s WWDC. It’s made to enable scanning a space with a LiDAR-equipped iPhone or iPad, understanding the geometry and furniture, and creating a 3D model that app developers can use however they see fit.
An intriguing look at how Apple’s technology functions in real-world settings may be found in Maschmeyer’s thread. He describes how the model created from the scan, for instance, is completely untextured, necessitating Shopify’s prototype to gather texture information from the phone’s camera and figure out how to extend those textures behind the furniture that may currently be obscuring parts of the walls and floors. The finished 3D model is then superimposed over the actual room.
It must be mentioned that the outcomes are far more amazing than what I found using a comparable online design tool from Ikea. Despite having the ability to remove furniture from a space, Ikea’s app can only display the outcomes as a 2D image. In contrast, Shopify’s prototype appears to let you keep using augmented reality to look about the (now empty) room. But to be fair to Ikea, its method doesn’t call for an iPhone with a LiDAR (any iPhone will do). Additionally, rather than being an internal tech demo, it is a real piece of technology that anyone can download and use in their own homes.
I believe it’s fair to state that despite Apple’s years of showcasing its Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities at developer conferences, we still haven’t seen a game-changing use for the technology (I don’t count Pokémon Go because so many people play without the AR mode enabled). However, seeing these prototypes gives me optimism that innovative applications of the technology may be near the way. Perhaps in January, when Apple’s reported AR/VR headset will be available.