I underestimated the speed of ARKit adoption

I didn't realize how advanced some ARKit solutions had already become in just a few weeks.

Apple, ARKit, iOS, Mac, Tim Cook

I underestimated the speed of ARKit adoption. I knew developers had already begun working with Apple’s new augmented reality (AR) tech. But I did not realize how advanced some of these solutions have already become in the few weeks since Apple announced iOS 11 at WWDC.

When I’m not writing tips or trying to put together useful information for readers, I spend time thinking about how current technology directions hint at what is possible. I’m used to speculating on iPhone’s becoming wallets and not actually seeing this happen for years.

I’m not used to speculating about a possibility one week, only to see that possibility realized the following week. And this is what I’m seeing here.

Only last week I noted how AR may be used in supermarkets, only to see a product that does just that appear the following week.

Only last month I noted that ARKit may be used by museums. Now, I find it is already in use at a leading air flight exhibition center.

This means that when it comes to speculating about how ARKit may be used, we are on the fast track between the idea and the reality.

Augmenting the enterprise

I think the speed of these deployments means enterprise readers across the board need to make a little time in their schedule to engage with these technologies.

They must, as the speed of deployment hints that by this time next year many of their competitors may already be locked into the tech.

[Also read: 12 ways you’ll use ARKit in your enterprise]

We’ve seen this kind of mass excitement around new technologies before, so it’s probably right to take these claims with a pinch of salt. But Apple does appear to have generated rapid deployment.

One report I’ve seen claims a 150 percent increase in AR startups focused on the enterprise in the last quarter.

This isn’t just driven by Apple, of course, but while Google promises more Daydream AR capable phones will ship “by Christmas,” Apple’s ARKit-based solutions will hit an audience of hundreds of millions from the get-go.

This difference in scale is what makes iOS an attractive market for enterprise users seeking a real, if virtual, edge on competitors.

This is what is happening in the VR/AR market

Futuresource Consulting estimates that the augmented and mixed reality market will reach $14.1 billion (€12.1 billion) by the end of 2021.

Digit-Capital claims that around $2 billion was invested in VR/AR initiatives across 27 sectors over the last 12 months.

Apple’s move to make sure ARKit is compatible with VR creation solutions like those from Unity and others should facilitate developers migrating their ideas to its already market-ready platform. I’m seeing solutions for education, online retail, gaming, mapping, home design and so much more.

It reminds me of the pace of creation I saw when computers suddenly learned how to handle fonts and graphics and desktop publishing was born. It reminds me of the pace of creation I saw around the time Apple introduced developer tools and the App Store. It’s a new gold rush, and while that should be great for developers, it also means we’ll have to experience a whole bunch of second-rate solutions until the really transformative ones appear.

Developers, developers, developers

The big challenge for large development houses and enterprises hoping to stake space in this new virtual world will be the same problem we’ve been seeing across multiple industries in recent years: talent acquisition, retention and training.

I suspect there just won’t be enough AR development skills to go round—and that’s going to be the biggest near-term obstacle to proliferation in this tech.

It’s also going to be the biggest near-term advantage to any firm with an interest in AR deployments that already has the right skills within its existing teams.

I will no longer underestimate the speed of change here. No wonder Tim Cook’s Apple spent so much time and energy ensuring tens of millions of devices would support these technologies from the get-go. Apple has executed a highly complex and long-term plan to foster a new wave of innovation. Who saw that coming? 

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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