Apple’s Reality Converter simplifies creating 3D augmented reality objects

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Adobe Aero on an iPad Pro
Augmented reality has the potential to revolutionize education, driving, shopping, medicine, and many other fields.
Photo: Adobe

Apple’s Reality Converter gives developers a free tool to convert, view, and customize 3D objects into USDZ, the file format Apple uses for augmented reality content. This is clearly part of the company’s drive to play a significant role in AR development.

Augmented reality overlays computer-generated images or text onto the real world. It’s different from virtual reality, which completely replaces the real world.

Play around with reality in Apple’s Reality Converter

Reality Converter, Apple’s new AR tool for macOS, lets users drag-and-drop common 3D file formats, such as .obj, .gltf and .usd, to view the converted USDZ result. Users can then change textures and edit file metadata.

Once finished, Reality Converter can preview the USDZ object under a variety of lighting and environment conditions with built-in IBL (image-based lighting) options.

The first Reality Converter beta is available now on Apple’s website for developers. Being a registered developer is required to access this software. It’s Mac-only — there’s no iPad version.

Apple’s new offering appears similar to Adobe Aero, which can combine 3D models and 2D images to create augmented reality experiences. This free software was developed to make AR easier for creatives rather than developers, and is available for iPad and iPhone.

Apple ❤️ augmented reality

Apple CEO Tim Cook is an booster for augmented reality. “AR has the ability to amplify human performance instead of isolating humans. So I am a huge, huge believer in AR. We put a lot of energy on AR,” he said in 2018.

His company introduced ARKit in 2017, enabling developers to begin adding virtual objects to everyday spaces. Last summer, Apple Stores began taking people on AR[T] augmented reality walks in several cities around the world, showing off creations by world renowned artists.

iOS 13 includes ARKit 3, Among other improvements, it uses on-device, real-time machine learning to recognize the human form and seamlessly integrate people into AR experiences.