AR continues to be a buzzword in tech, but is there any value in it?
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It is almost a guarantee. You open your favorite tech-based website and see something mentioning blockchain, VR, or AR. Almost every single time you look. These terms are such common buzzwords, it's easy for me to pay less attention to stories about them.
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While at Adobe Max, I had an opportunity to see why Adobe has doubled down on that "AR" buzzword with Project Aero. The fundamental value of augmented reality is to create an immersive experience. However, when I think of Adobe, AR is the last thing that comes to mind.
During the keynote and in my press meetings, Adobe elaborated on why AR can be done better with its tools and partnerships. I'd like to share that information with you.
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What is Project Aero?
"Project Aero is a new AR authoring tool where we're enabling designers to be able to create these immersive experiences," says Zorana Gee, Group Project Manager, for Adobe (Figure A).
As previously mentioned, I don't think of Adobe when I think of AR. I usually think of design and/or tools for creative artists. However, Adobe truly believes that AR is the next big thing in media consumption, so it's diving into the mysterious waters and working to offer tools to help create the magical environments of AR.
AR is pretty popular in the consumer space thanks to smartphones giving more and more people access to this medium. Google and Apple have its AR sticker options for fun messaging. The Pokemon Go game really took off last summer with its use of AR. From a consumer aspect, it seemed that this was the extent of AR. Personally, I didn't think AR brought much more to the table on the consumer space because the only access I had with it was via smartphone offerings. Sure the offerings were fun, but they got old and boring rather quickly. I wanted more from it. (And yes, I know I don't speak for all consumers.)
I made these same comments to the Adobe team, and they all nodded their heads in agreement, but they were also quick to tell me (and show me) that there's more. Since I'm not a total curmudgeon, I listened to the team's thought.
Entering a new dimension
As mentioned in the Keynote, Adobe has been working hard with Apple and Adidas. Regarding Apple, the partnership utilizing ARKit was shown off with more video games on display. I yawned. Then, there was a demo where Zorana Gee showed how Aero takes advantage of the third dimension as it integrates easily with another Adobe product--Dimension.
The integration with Dimension got my attention because it showed how a creative artist could mock up vectors in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Dimension and then seamlessly manipulate individual layers of those files. Gee showed the ability to import a Photoshop file (.psd) into Dimension, then fire up Project Aero and display the graphic in AR as a graphic layer on top of the stage. As Gee moved her iPad on stage into z-space, the flat .psd file had a third dimension allowing viewers to feel as if they were walking through the fantasy hallway. Ok, that was pretty fascinating.
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In addition to this demonstration, Gee simulated a customer's shoe buying experience with a pair of Adidas sneakers. The sneakers would animate based on where the customer was standing by offering more views into the design and build of the sneaker. Tapping on the screen allowed for color and style changes, as well.
Ok, Adobe. I can see that being a useful, long-lasting implementation of AR since most people cannot put their smartphones down in any day-to-day scenario.
Those are okay ideas for AR, but education and medical assistance would be awesome for AR, too. The team discussed with me the use of a cardiologist examining a heart during diagnosis. Seeing the human heart in 3D space as well as manipulating the view of the heart in 3D space could possibly allow a cardiologist a more efficient workflow in determining treatment for an ailing heart. We all know what a human heart looks like, but most of us don't have access to view simulated heart beats in 3D space to see how the atria or ventricles react upon the synaptic impulses firing along the heart's muscle fibers. This additional point of view could also help educate future cardiologists if a developer could build an app, which reinforces healthy form and function of a human heart.
Yes, there are tons of cute and fun ways to implement AR. But AR implementation into the education or medical fields could be monumental, especially if the development of these tools becomes less cumbersome for design studios and developers. Tools like Project Aero have proved more valuable than I originally assumed. It's not a gimmick. It's an opportunity to open up a new world of fun, learning, and assistance at our fingertips. If you're interested in Project Aero, Adobe offers an early access to its beta.
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