Watch this impressive AR demo ‘reset’ a room using the latest Apple technology

What if you could use the augmented reality features of a LiDAR-equipped iPhone to see what a room might look like with all its furniture removed? This is the idea behind a new AR prototype presented by Shopify’s Russ Maschmeyer on Twitter. The demo, which he refers to as a “reset button” for a room, puts Ikea’s virtual design tool to shame. But it’s just an internal experiment so far that provides an interesting look at the kind of experiences that could be possible with Apple’s latest AR APIs.

In a video, Maschmeyer shows how the prototype is able to seamlessly delete the contents of a room so that the iPhone can be used to look around the empty space in the AR. In subsequent tweets, Maschmeyer explains how the technology may one day be useful for e-commerce sites so they can show customers what new furniture could look like at home without getting in the way of existing furniture.

The prototype is built with Apple’s RoomPlan API, a tool for developers that the company has described at WWDC this year. It is designed to let an iPhone or iPad equipped with a LiDAR sensor scan a room, understand its geometry and furniture, and build a 3D model that app developers can use as they wish.

Maschmeyer’s thread is an interesting look at how Apple’s technology is to use in practice. For example, he explains how the model generated from the scan is completely untextured, so Shopify’s prototype must collect texture data from the phone’s camera and then figure out how to extend the textures behind the furniture that can currently hide parts of the walls and floors. . It then overlays the resulting 3D model in the right space.

The results, it must be said, are much more impressive than what I experienced when I tried a similar virtual design tool from Ikea. Although Ikea’s app is also capable of deleting furniture from a room, it is only capable of presenting the results as a 2D image. In contrast, Shopify’s prototype seems to allow you to continue to look around in the (now empty) space of augmented reality. But in fairness to Ikea, its approach does not require a LiDAR-equipped iPhone (any iPhone will do that). It is also a real piece of technology that people can download and use in their own home, rather than an internal technology demo.

Apple has been showcasing its AR tools at developer conferences for years, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve not yet seen a killer app for the technology show up (I do not count Pokémon Go because of how many people play without AR mode enabled). But prototypes like these make me hope that interesting applications of the technology can be just around the corner. Like, maybe January, when Apple’s AR / VR headset is rumored to be released.

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