Using the ARKit 2.0 announcement as its springboard, software maker Adobe is looking leap up to the level of Unity Technologies and Epic Games, the companies making the go-to tools for creating augmented reality experiences.
Between with Photoshop, Illustrator, Creative Cloud, and other applications in its portfolio, Adobe is arguably the top maker of software for creatives. However, Unity and Unreal Engine 4 are the dominant platforms for 3D content creation, and, therefore, the leading development tools for augmented reality.
Adobe is looking to elbow its way into that lineup with Project Aero, an authoring tool and platform-agnostic system for immersive content creation. Leveraging Adobe's Creative Cloud apps and services, Project Aero enables artists to create 3D content with familiar tools, specifically Photoshop CC and Dimension CC. Also, the system applies machine learning, by way of Adobe Sensei, to reduce the technical workload on users so that they can concentrate on the creative process.
During the keynote presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) yesterday, Abhay Parasnis, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Adobe, joined Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, to unveil Adobe's new tools for AR developers and creators.
"At Adobe, our mission has always been to push the limits of creativity, and continuously innovate to support exciting new mediums. Apple is building a leading platform for augmented reality, and we are incredibly happy to announce that we are working with them to help designers and developers create these incredible AR experiences," wrote Parasnis in a blog post.
Also, Adobe will extend support for USDZ, the new file format established by Apple and Pixar for augmented reality content, to its Creative Cloud suite. Adobe will also support the open-sourced gITF standard backed by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Sketchfab, and practically the rest of the augmented reality industry.
"AR content development today also requires a combination of creativity and technical skills. Project Aero will deliver a system for both developers and creatives to build simple AR scenes and experiences leveraging Apple's ARKit. Designers can easily create immersive content that can then be brought into Xcode for further refinement and development," wrote Parasnis.
To showcase its new AR capabilities, Adobe is hosting Festival of the Impossible on June 8-10 at the Minnesota St. Project Galleries in San Francisco. Fifteen artists will exhibit the digital art they have created with Adobe's new toys during the event.
While Unity and Unreal are designed for software developers, there's a growing industry segment of AR creation tools aimed at non-developers. For instance, Amazon Sumerian is branded as an augmented and virtual reality tool that requires no coding knowledge. Facebook and Snapchat emphasize ease of use with templates and script-free tools for their creation platforms. Even enterprise AR platforms like Ubimax, Upskill, and, more recently, RE'FLEKT have added noob-friendly features to their standard offerings.
Adobe's strategy is similar, but it is appealing to the graphic design and animation professionals, who are already familiar with its software. While other tools emphasize the ability to import 3D content from repositories like Sketchfab, Microsoft Remix3D and Google Poly, Project Aero is designed for the people who make the 3D content in those libraries.