This week saw the launch of the Philips ARc – or augmented reality configurator. After debuting at ISE in Amsterdam earlier this year, alongside a Magic Leap experience developed by Draw & Code, Philips Professional Display Solutions have officially launched their ARc app for use by A/V professionals across the globe. Developed by Draw & Code using Vuforia, ARKit and ARCore, this app allows Philips’ partners to measure a space, find the correct size of screen and show it in situ. It’s even possible to configure and view a full video wall set-up without the need for a van-load of screens and expert A/V professionals to install them.
However, what the launch of ARc by Philips also shows i2s how augmented reality can make the jump from fun to functional.
There are certain questions that consistently pop up around AR. One such query concerns how the practical applications of this emerging technology stacks up against the gimmicks. Essentially it’s about AR can do for you rather than more AR-for-AR’s sake.
While we understand those concerns, we’ve long argued that there’s very little that is gimmicky about technology generally. Today’s marketing-led app, frivolous face filter, thought-provoking art piece or casual game are all precursors to tomorrow’s user-centric breakthroughs. They provide a chance to experiment with, gauge reaction to and to build an appetite for all things AR. It then takes a client with vision to see how the technology can work for their business needs.
During the latter half of 2018, the team at Draw & Code worked on a collaborative project with Philips Displays and Magic Leap that launched at ISE 2019 in Amsterdam. This mammoth A/V industry show is a competitive environment and it is imperative that something novel is offered to the tens of thousands of delegates roaming the halls. To that end, we developed a brand engagement project for Philips using the Magic Leap headset as our medium. A 3D character, based on both the Philips and Android brands, invited delegates to engage with the displays being showcased by throwing digital objects at them. It was simple in terms of interaction design, but very effective in driving engagement with the brand in the face of extremely stiff competition at the show.
Early on in the development of this fun AR experience, the question arose about how this technology could be used by Philips in a more functional sense. From this came Philips ARc. The realistic-looking 3D models of displays neatly appear to hang on the wall, creating the most precise real-time visualisation and measurement tool for the display industry that it is possible to have – all using accessible mobile devices carried by any partner of Philips.
Martin Ware, EMEA business management director at Philips Professional Display Solutions, commented: “We’ve been blown away by the really positive feedback we’ve received from our partners since launch.”
With the experiential Magic Leap project generating interest in using this technology for Philips Professional Display Solutions, it was logical for them to continue to explore a more practical use of AR in their day-to-day work. While mixed reality headsets are rare beasts outside of the bubble of an immersive technology developer like ourselves, many of the same basic features can be recreated by a smartphone or tablet, even if the user experience is very different.
The Philips ARc app and its Magic Leap experiential counterpart are proof that the fun and the functional can both happily co-exist – and feed off each other – as AR evolves. For Draw & Code it was a refreshing chance to develop two very different takes on AR in tandem for a forward-thinking client.