We did not see Apple’s AR/VR headset at WWDC 2022 this summer. The long-awaited device may finally make its debut in January, according to a reliable analyst. In the meantime, Apple is continuing to build upon its augmented reality technology. One thing that Apple did show developers at WWDC was a brand new RoomPlan API, and earlier this week, Shopify’s Russ Maschmeyer demoed an incredible AR feature using the API.
Shopify’s Space Eraser uses Apple’s RoomPlan API
One of the early use cases for augmented reality was interior design. For example, the IKEA app lets you place furniture in a room using AR. The feature allows you to see what a couch, chair, or table might look like in your house before you buy it.
As The Verge notes, the IKEA app also lets you erase furniture from a room, but the resulting image is in 2D. Using Apple’s RoomPlan API, Shopify was able to build a similar feature. They call it a “reset button,” and it’s far more advanced than the IKEA feature:
As Russ explains, the Space Eraser “models spaces in high-fidelity—capturing room-defining objects, their size, position, orientation.” Live pixel data then combines with depth data from a LiDAR Scanner on an iPhone or iPad. The result is a “lifelike digital twin of your room that can be overlaid onto your real space using AR and then edited digitally.”
Bringing the feature to the real world
Russ went on to explain how e-commerce platforms could utilize the tool in their apps:
With an empty room, shoppers can now swipe through room sets which leverage the orientation of existing furniture to arrange themselves automatically. With a digital twin of your room and your furniture you could simply swipe your original sofa away to explore options that better match the rest of the room.
If you want to know more about how Shopify is using Apple’s AR technology, read the entire thread. The ways in which the Shopify team worked around the obstacles they encountered are fascinating. For instance, RoomPlan exports untextured models. Therefore, the feature has to gather texture data from the real-time camera feed.
Now, just imagine using the Space Eraser with Apple’s future headset or glasses. These are the kinds of features that might make AR more than a gimmick.
The bad news is that you can’t actually use Shopify’s Space Eraser yet. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to take it for a spin soon.
More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.