Vuforia Fusion - Part 2
This is the second post in a two part series about Vuforia Fusion. Please click here to view the first.
We have covered what Vuforia Fusion outlines as its offering, what is actually does offer, but now we are moving onto what we would like to see in the short and long term, and cover the threats to what Vuforia are trying to offer.
Mature from beta
For starters we need Fusion to come out of beta. It's not labelled as a beta service, but it does feel like one. I would rather wait another 2 months for the next iteration in this service and it be done right, rather than them trying to attach band aids to what is already out there. This may seem overly critical of what Vuforia has provided (I know it is no small feat to get all of the integrations working together, and it would have taken some time) but the lack of documentation, explanations of how their new systems work, and most of all lack of better samples hinders the experience. We need to see a more mature experience evolve from this service which truly does fuse ARKit and ARCore in a seamless experience across all devices and platforms. Just a quick look at the Vuforia developer forums highlights the samples we need provided.
As part of this new service it would be great to allow developers to know what is going on with the underlying systems, and even allow developers to tune the settings for ARKit and ARCore from the Vuforia API. If you look at the native ARKit and ARCore integrations there are a lot of features you can enable / disable and tweak for a session, none of which we are exposed to us right now.
Longer term it would be great to see vertical plane tracking (Vuforia Wall Plane's?) alongside Ground Plane. ARKit has just introduced this, I am sure ARCore will follow suit (highly requested feature of both platforms) so it makes sense to expose this via Fusion. Then even longer term I would love to see the Smart Terrain system evolve using their Ground and Wall plane features to provide a combined "mesh" within a users environment. We are seeing a lot of companies working on this technology right now, and I would be surprised if Vuforia does not offer something similar. They do after all have one of the largest AR developer bases in the world.
Vuforia does need to be careful though. Other companies are rapidly developing competing services widening the choices developers have for AR integrations in their projects. Take ARKit for example. It is free to use, offers incredible environment tracking, and as of version 1.5 has the ability to track image targets. Now the experience is nowhere near as robust as what Vuforia has to offer (does not lock content onto a trigger, just an initial tracking callback) but just having this ability is a big threat. Going forward I see Apple adding in more robust tracking and improved features, leaving developers wondering why they would use Vuforia (and pay the $499 license fee) for their projects.
Oddly, I also see Unity as a threat. It's strange to say I know, but hear me out. Now, Vuforia late last year announced a right integration with Unity, in that their SDK is now enabled as a part of the Unity IDE itself. Unity has always been a leading choice within the XR market, and their XR team now has dedicated AR team within it, focusing on improving the AR offerings to developers and enabling a seamless single API experience to target all platforms. So why would they be a threat? Their core focus right now is the integration of ARKit, ARCore and other providers into Unity to enable this seamless experience. Given image tracking is available on iOS (and I am sure Google will follow suit) why would we need Vuforia? A single API for both iOS and Android to perform advanced AR functionality and image tracking, is that not what Vuforia’s selling point is? Unity democratizing the AR development ecosystem could push Vuforia out of its top spot, enabling other products to take its place.
I have to say, I do not want this to happen. Instead I would prefer Vuforia carry on doing what they do best, image tracking. And rather than lock this feature so tight that only Vuforia can fuse with other services, open up and offer this integration to Unity so that us developers can choose Vuforia as the "image tracking" service within Unity based apps. Let ARKit and ARCore (or others) handle the rest.
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