Apple’s ARKit and The Future of Augmented Reality

From chatbots to artificial intelligence, new technology is constantly changing our relationship with marketing. Earlier this month, space150’s Chief Innovation Officer Marc Jensen was interviewed by Adweek for their “8 Technologies and Platforms Every Forward-Thinking Marketer Needs to Know” article. We had a few follow-up questions for Marc about what you need to know about Augmented Reality (AR) today and how it will affect the future of the advertising industry.

What are your thoughts on Apple’s technology and what it means for marketers today?

We had desktop computing, then mobile computing, and now AR represents the next tectonic evolution in our technology world. Apple has publicly been very bullish on the long-term potential of Augmented Reality, and it’s easy to see why: AR has the potential to become the next global, ubiquitous computing platform. While Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all have initiatives in this space, Apple launching ARKit this fall will bring impressive mobile-based AR to millions of people. Apple has tight control over the hardware and software in the iPhone, and this puts them in a very unique position to deliver a compelling AR experience on a truly mass-market device.

Here’s why: it will take another decade for the phone to be replaced by technology that will allow us to interact with AR. So, in the meantime, our phones and the services that run with them will be our primary tool. By creating ARKit, it’s put power in the Apple platform and iOS.

This means that brands and marketers should be building and testing now to be prepared for the inevitable AR future. Like the brands who won mobile, the brands who want to be ahead of this next tech transformation will need to find ways to natively blend and benefit how consumers are using AR. These experiences must be additive, no one wants AR pop-up ads.

While it will take time for the technology to catch-up, brands who prepare today, will be positioned well for the next 5-10 years.

How significant of a move is it that Apple is getting into AR and do you expect it to make AR more mainstream?

As they did with iTunes, the iPhone, and iOS, ARKit is a huge move. Apple’s integrated hardware and software approach allows them to own both sides of the consumer equation. This will also create a ton of competitive advantages for the future, allowing them to be at the forefront of better phones and better services. They see a future where AR is the next big computing platform, and based on the success they’ve had to date, I would agree with them.

This will make AR more mainstream in that more developers will begin experimenting, more experiences will be created, and more and more people will begin to see the AR future they’re helping facilitate. While the demand is still fairly low, the ubiquity of smartphones makes this an inevitability. With this iOS11 rollout in September, now tens of millions of people will have access to AR overnight. That’s impact that brands should embrace whole heartedly.

Moreover, it creates further demand for Apple’s products and the universal computing future they want. Apple has a history of bringing new technology to the masses in a way that’s easy and accessible.

Will brands need ARKit-specific strategies and does space150 have a dedicated team for AR?

This will no doubt change the way consumers interact with brands. From that perspective, you need people who can help you find those connections between your brand and your consumer. While I’m not sure I see a future where you have a full-time team dedicated to building AR experiences, I do see this as a growth area for agencies and developers who can help brands navigate what will no doubt be an ever-changing landscape.

At space150, we’re currently working with two major brands on AR projects. We employ a hybrid model. We have a team of strategists, engineers and creatives that are monitoring and are versed in this world, but we also employ specialists to teach those teams and allow us to move more quickly on projects, if need be. For the time being, this seems to be working.

-Besides categories like beauty and retail, what other categories of brands do you think will be first to use ARKit and is there anything different about it from other AR platforms that brands should know about?

IKEA, Lowes, and Houzz are currently leading the pack in home design and remodeling, and this is a category ripe for AR’s benefits. I expect to see a ton from that space soon.

Gaming and entertainment is another one where we will see a ton of consumer adoption. I expect that brands will find ways, like we see in eSports, to integrate their messages and find sponsorship opportunities that fit.

Facebook is also embracing AR, but they don’t own the mobile platforms (iOS / Android), so they are limited by what iOS and Android allow them to do. The camera effects and social aspect of their tools will make it a player with consumers, but we haven’t seen consumers adopt the camera tools for Facebook to date. That said, Facebook has some amazing technologists at work on this, and we should see more this year.

For more information about Marc Jensen, click here.