Exploring augmented reality, iOS developer Ryan uses Scenekit and Unity to test the very latest AR features introduced in WWDC18, building a Jenga mobile game that can be played by multiple people across Apple devices.
During my Innovation Time week, I wanted to explore the latest augmented reality software provided to developers by Apple. The Jenga AR project was inspired by the latest WWDC18 keynote which covered a range of new augmented reality features and updates, which have truly opened the doors for techies like me to introduce new technologies within the realm of augmented reality.
By iOS developer Ryan Bourne.
Having been passionate for game development since my childhood and a massive advocate of the potential AR can provide in the world of mobile apps, I spent my week testing the limits of Unity and Scenekit to develop a Jenga game in augmented reality.
Working with the new updates meant I could practice and include features and functions I had never developed previously, things like defining physics, setting up collision-detection and making every object interactive.
Developing an augmented reality app in a week. That was the first challenge, the second? Doing so while experimenting with the latest AR features in both Unity and SceneKit, discovering the opportunities the new tech is providing for developers and testing if this new technology has the potential to be implemented on a global scale to improve lives all around the world.
I wanted to explore and experiment with the technologies so that if a time came when AR offered the potential to solve one of our partners problems, I would know the best way to develop the solution.
Building upon the SwiftShot AR game announced during WWDC18 to gain an understanding of how all the new features work, as well as introducing my own logic and functionality in the form of a Jenga game.
The game would need to detect surfaces, recognise objects, understand physics and be interactive between two or more players. No easy task, especially in a week, but one which would allow me to test both Scenekit and Unity’s new features.
The game initiates by first detecting the surface you want to play on, this could be any flat area, but for the purpose of this project mainly included floors and desks in our office.
The blocks needed to be designed by pulling 3D objects from a database and figuring out which size each object needed to be. Unknown to me at the time, the latest update includes a new scaling feature which let me make the Jenga blocks even bigger.
One of the more challenging aspects of the project, the physics were difficult to get right and included a lot of maths, but meant that each block would move and respond in a natural way, fall to the ground once dropped and disappear off the bottom of the screen.
After opening the app and detecting your playing surface, a Jenga tower will appear, players can then take turns moving around the tower in the real-world and removing blocks without making the entire tower fall over.
I’d love to improve the Jenga game by fixing the leftover bugs and making the entire process of playing the game a little smoother, but at the same time I’d love to explore other features and functionality of AR games now that I’ve got the basics covered.
With a little more time and resource I’ll be able to go beyond testing what AR technology can do and start driving forward new ideas and new ways of using the technology in all the projects we work on.
Having developed AR games in Scenekit and Unity, Unity would be my preference, mainly because it makes life much easier for developers by doing a lot of work in the background.
Augmented reality is already being implemented by industry-leaders across a number of sectors from non-profits to finance and gaming. A great example of the adaptability of this technology is in our Pokemon Go app which tested a system we use to warn people of natural disasters on our hazards platform.
The opportunities for organisations in this area are only growing as new features and functionality are being introduced in updates, staying ahead of the game means exploring and experimenting with this technology before it becomes standard practice.
If you think AR could be the solution to the problems your brand is facing, send us your challenge and the chances are we’ve already been working on the solution.
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