Earlier this week, Apple acquired German startup Metaio, a leading company in the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality space.  Metaio develops AR tools which use sophisticated 3D tracking capable devices for development of AR apps. Metaio's augmented-reality software is extensively used in retail, commercial, industrial and automotive markets.

Apple Acquired Metaio Image Courtesy: Hypebeast.com

A pioneer in the field of augmented reality, Metaio has many impressive projects under its belt such as the one with Ferrari that gives a potential buyer an AR tour of the car, product showrooms for IKEA as well as visual guides for repairing complicated industrial or automobile equipment.

Will Apple’s latest acquisition bring a whole new world of opportunities for iPhone and iPad users?

According to reports, earlier this year Metaio patented a VR headset that worked with iPhones.  Does that mean Apple could make augmented reality accessible to iPhone and iPad users? Apple has a portfolio of several AR patents, including mapping solutions, virtual displays powered by an iPhone, and transparent displays. Undoubtedly, the acquisition would result in Apple enhancing its virtual reality and augmented reality strengths.

Here are different ways iPhone and iPad users could enjoy augmented reality on their devices:

Apple Maps:

It is rumored that Apple will use augmented reality feature for its Maps app. This will allow users to point their phones at a street to check out nearby businesses as you walk at app's designated path.

Metaio App Image Courtesy: handelsblatt.com

Your phone could help you identify landmarks, buildings, and street signs so you don't miss your destination.

Commercial Use:  

Apple could leverage Metaio’s technology to help users examine product features and functions more closely.

Immersive Experience for students and educators:

Apple could provide a better design and overall experience compared to Cardboard, Google’s virtual reality solution for educators.  A cardboard holder turns a smartphone into a virtual reality device — allowing students’ tour sites from far.

Home Solutions:

Augmented Reality Home Image Courtesy: futurahomedecorating.com

Confused about where to put home appliances or furniture in the house? An augmented reality app can help you find practical solutions to your problems.

Training Solutions:

Augmented and virtual reality has transcended beyond entertainment and gaming to other uses like training medical staff on complex surgeries without even entering an operating room.

Augmented Reality: More than a buzzword, now a reality

From architectural design, retail to tourism, augmented reality has redefined the shape of many industries.  It is about time for all critics who dismissed augmented reality as a gimmick to rethink.

So far Apple has been tightlipped about the entire deal and has issued a boilerplate statement "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not comment on our purpose or plans."

But this move seems to be a strategic progression for Apple in the field. Now, big three tech companies are battling in the world of augmented reality. It all started when Facebook led the charge last year, buying Oculus VR. Google joined the league with the launch of a cost-effective virtual reality alternative, Cardboard, targeting educators.

Apple: Not a first mover, yet a game changer

Now, Apple enters the field of augmented reality. Some would think that Apple’s late entry might have a negative impact. But, Apple was never about being a first mover. The company did not launch a smartphone, tablet or wearable device. The strength of Apple is making technology dead simple for its users. Given Apple’s long-standing history of simplifying technology, augmented reality will take off in a big way.

There is no denying that augmented reality is all set to change the way you use your iPhone and iPad.



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