Announcing Torch 2 - start building AR apps
Torch AR 2 marks a significant advancement beyond the Torch AR 1 series, making it possible for anyone to not just design, but also develop and deploy complex AR experiences using Torch. Starting with today’s release, you will be able to use Torch to connect to APIs, gather user analytics data, control IoT devices, dynamically update project assets via direct Dropbox sync, anchor experiences to real-world objects using image tracking and, soon, cloud anchors, and in the coming weeks, share experiences to all the major social platforms as well as through public Torch links.
Download Torch 2 and get started today.
Highlights of the new release include:
- Open URL - connect your Torch application to the outside world for e-commerce, IoT, or whatever you want.
- Image Tracking - anchor your experiences to objects and images in the real world.
- Dropbox Sync - link your project to Dropbox and change assets on the fly. Perfect when moving from rough prototypes to production-ready experiences and laying the groundwork for both the Torch CMS and dynamic, personalized AR experiences.
- Direct Model Upload - have a 3D model you built that you don’t want to make public? Are your clients strict about IP protection and confidentiality? Don’t want to use an online model warehouse? You can now add 3D models to Torch as easily as you can a photo of a PNG.
We are all 3D Developers now
In September 2018 we launched Torch AR by declaring we are all 3D designers now. It was a statement founded on a pair of strongly-held convictions: existing 3D workflows are too complex and expensive, stymieing innovation and, given the right tools, mobile product and UX designers were perfectly capable of designing 3D applications.
It felt like a bold declaration then, and it was intended to be. We wanted to send out a clarion call to those who felt shut out of the 3D revolution, all the designers and developers of the mobile apps we use every day who took one look at the 3D design Wall of Pain and threw up their hands in frustration.
Our 9/24 declaration outlined a vision not of disruption but of empowerment, where hard-won mobile app skills mattered even more than before and a decade of expertise wasn’t discarded for an untested paradigm but rather recognized as the foundation for a new revolution in UX. It was an ambitious vision, to be sure. But as we’ve since learned, it turns out not to have been as ambitious as the vision of those who started to use Torch.
Rapid growth in the number of designers and developers using Torch, which in turn has driven ten feature-packed releases over the last five months, taught us we were thinking too narrowly. Torch made it easy for screen designers to use their existing tools in 3D. Whether it was Sketch, Figma, InVision, or Adobe, it just worked with Torch. Existing tools and skills became more useful, not less. And people embraced the message.
Except that once people started using Torch to design, they (and we along with them) discovered they wanted to use Torch not just to design, but to develop and deploy AR experiences as well. Why overcome the design Wall of Pain only to be faced with another, much more daunting obstacle - the 3D production workflow?
Practical concerns shaped the Torch 2 release as well: people want to publish AR experiences where people are already regularly using AR. Today that means either on the social platforms or as features embedded in existing apps (e.g. Houzz, the New York Times, the Lego AR Studio). We will offer the ability to do both. A person will be able to build an experience once in Torch and publish it to any and all platforms, including as a standalone experience, saving dozens of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in the meantime. And later this year, we will release an SDK that allows you to embed a Torch into existing mobile apps.
Our roadmap for 2019 reflects not just our ideas but the ambitions of the people who use Torch every day. It also reflects, both in how it quickly it has evolved and where it is headed, the acceleration in adoption of AR I wrote about in my blog series kicking off the year. Enterprises are waking up to the possibilities 3D represents to them, experimentation is giving way to practical and even mundane, everyday use cases (a good thing!), and 2019 is shaping up to be the year AR fulfilled its promise.
If there’s a theme in all of this, a way of summing up what the move from Torch AR 1 to Torch AR 2, it is one of deepening the connections between the digital and the real, of creating new interactions and new modes of expression. And underneath it all - underpinning our roadmap and our message and all the ambitious plans of not just Torch but the many other companies working to create AR tools and content, it’s our belief that everyone has a role to play in building the world UI, that we are all 3D developers now.