Voice-activated digital assistants from Amazon, Apple, and Google currently have the upper hand for home automation integrations, but a new augmented reality mobile app promises to give homeowners and renters visual control over their connected appliances.
Smart AR Home, available on the App Store and Google Play, uses ARKit and ARCore, respectively, to construct a visual map of your home and enables you to interact with Samsung SmartThings and Philips Hue light switches and dimmers via a smartphone's camera view.
Images by Binary Bananas/YouTube (1, 2)
The app uses image recognition, such as a framed painting or a book cover, to establish an anchor point in the home. From there, users can then walk to their connected devices and place virtual switches on them through the camera view. The anchor point synchronizes the device locations to the smartphone's position.
Users can also map out their home's floor plan via horizontal and vertical surface recognition. The floor plan can be applied to a bird's eye 3D view of the home, which shows the locations of connected devices for use in controlling the home from remote locations.
While the selection of integrated smarthome devices is slim at the moment, the company notes that more platforms and device types are coming soon.
At first blush, it might be a hard sell to get someone to control a home through a smartphone camera view when voice commands work just as well. However, the app's developer, Binary Bananas, argues that the visual interface gives users finer controls over their smarthome devices. Using the app's virtual switches, very specific settings can be achieved to set just the right level of lighting. I agree with the developer's line of thinking, as I usually find it easier to directly dial in the volume on my Google Home's touch-sensitive surface rather than guess what percentage of volume I'm looking for.
Ultimately, this app seems like a precursor to the hotly anticipated augmented reality wearables era, where, when digital overlays are ever-present in the user's point of view, visual control of the connected home could become second nature.