Report: Apple wants to let anyone create apps for its AR headset using Siri
Apple Inc.’s much-anticipated upcoming mixed reality headset may allow people to build their own augmented reality apps using the company’s voice assistant Siri in a bid to boost sales for the device once it launches.
According to a report from The Information today, four people who worked on the headset said Apple hopes the new system will give those who don’t know how to code the power to create their own apps by simply speaking aloud.
“With the software tools, Apple hopes that even people who don’t know computer code could tell the headset, via the Siri voice assistant, to build an AR app that could then be made available via Apple’s App Store for others to download,” the report said.
The tool is reportedly built on technology acquired by Apple from the Montreal-based startup Fabric Software in 2017, which provides a graphics engine for developers to automatically create objects using procedural generation, which is a technique used in games such as “Minecraft” and “No Man’s Sky.”
Mixed reality and augmented reality work by mixing virtual objects with what the user can see by placing the virtual objects in the real world in a way that makes them appear that they are part of the physical space. For example, a virtual character could stand on a table, and appear to walk around a box of cereal, vanishing behind it, or have objects hover in the air that could be pushed around by the user’s hands.
As for a potential app, users could ask Siri to have virtual animals appear in the room, lounge on objects, bound around the room, move over visible objects and run up and down walls. All of this would be done without the need to design the animals or learn to animate them. The software itself would calculate everything needed to simulate accurately the animals’ movement in the room in the view of the user.
Using the cameras on the headset, users may also be able to have it scan the environment and import objects that are in the room to add them to the app. There would, of course, be stock objects available to choose from, but it may be able to create 3D objects from iPhone photos or other sources as well.
Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset, which may be named “Apple Reality Pro,” could have a price tag of $3,000 and feature the ability to switch between AR and VR environments. It’s also expected to launch sometime in the next few months. It will feature more than a dozen external cameras, motion tracking and a powerful internal processor – which will most likely make it ideal for a Siri-based app creation capability.
According to the report, Apple intends to build its own unique content for the upcoming headset and is emphasizing “health and wellness,” including AR apps that focus on exercise and meditation. Examples of early AR demos seen by the people working on the headset included a Zen garden. Another early demo included a walk through the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by using mixed reality to blend the surreal landscapes of the book with the real world.
Although the price tag of the Reality Pro headset is expected to be quite hefty and it’s potentially aimed at professional and enterprise users, it was also reported earlier this month that Apple is planning a follow-up headset that will be cheaper. That means the Pro headset could be the first in a wave that demonstrates Apple’s capabilities in the market, including Siri’s AR app builder and other content at launch, to be followed by a consumer model.
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