Google and Apple are working to enable augmented reality content for the web, but startup 8th Wall has managed to launch a web AR platform that works on mobile browsers now.
The platform supports many of the AR features that ARKit and ARCore have brought to mobile app developers. And it supports 6DoF tracking, so users can view content from any angle. Additionally, the platform can handle surface detection and point detection for anchoring content onto flat surfaces and enabling interaction with content, as well as light estimation so that content matches the physical environment.
With web-based AR experiences, retailers, advertisers, and other AR content publishers can release an AR experience to an audience without having to convince them to download an app or requiring them to scan a specific image. And since ARKit and ARCore only work with compatible mobile devices, this new platform may allow publishers to reach a wider audience.
"AR transforms the way people can use the web, whether it's taking a closer look at a product on an e-commerce site, interacting with immersive branded content, or being guided through a recipe with AR in the comfort of your own kitchen," said Erik Murphy-Chutorian, founder and CEO at 8th Wall, in a statement.
"However, app installation is currently a major barrier to AR mobile adoption; 87% of smartphone users in the US download no more than one app in a given month. 8th Wall Web extends the reach and impact of developers' AR features and creates a tremendous opportunity for them to reach customers on a scale that would not otherwise be possible."
While Google has released an API for web-based AR content for experimental Chrome browsers and Apple has made its AR Quick Look feature supporting the USDZ file format available through the iOS 12 beta, 8th Wall's platform is ready for the web today.
"Instead of having to build new web browsers, create new standards and sell new devices that can support them, 8th Wall Web works with today's mobile phones and web browsers," said Murphy-Chutorian in a statement to Next Reality.
But once Google and Apple's web AR solutions are officially launched, where will 8th Wall fit in?
"When launched, these solutions will be built with native code, meaning that any improvement, changes, or new features typically require a new web browser, new operating system, or new web standards," said Murphy-Chutorian. "In contrast, 8th Wall Web is a full computer vision and camera pipeline built on well established web technology. We can launch any new features and technology with 8th Wall Web immediately."
"Unlike these alternatives, 8th Wall Web allows web apps access to full scripting, interaction, and all the power of today's web. Brands can build immersive, interactive experiences with 8th Wall Web," said Murphy-Chutorian.
"Much of the past discussions around web AR has been how to simply view a 3D object in physical space. In contrast, 8th Wall Web's launch demo, Jini [see image at the top of the page], is an interactive web app with a conversational avatar, highlighting physically-based rendering, real-time shadows, particle effects, animation, audio, 3D buttons, gesture interactions, and playable mini-games."
The platform will be available to select 8th Wall brand partners starting September 11. Interested parties can view an interactive demo and contact the company about licensing the platform at 8th Wall's website.