Announcing Torch AR, the Design Platform for Mobile AR
The single biggest obstacle to widespread adoption of spatial computing is not device price, form factor, or install base. Rather, it is the lack of great content. More precisely, the obstacle is a lack of content caused by the lack of tools designers need to create and deploy that content.
This is why we started Torch.
We have seen firsthand how the byzantine workflows and complicated tools of 3D frustrate creativity and turn people off to this potentially revolutionary new form of computing. A single iteration of an idea in 3D, normally a matter of a few hours work in 2D screen app workflows, routinely took weeks and even months to complete.
Designers simply had no practical way to translate their ideas and their craft into 3D. Or as Natasha Jen, a partner at Pentagram who recently joined Torch as Design Advisor, put it, “Designers were afraid of 3D.”
Solving a Problem with a Bigger Problem
When Apple and Google released their respective mobile AR platforms, it was understandable to think the obstacles to 3D adoption had been overcome. Overnight, 500 million devices became AR-capable. Obstacles like size of install base, form factor, and cost were gone. What’s more, a millions-strong community of designers with mobile app experience could suddenly focus their talents on 3D.
And yet, a glaring problem remained. The very same complicated workflows and tools that existed the day before were still in place the day after these technologies were deployed. Spatial computing, with all its promise and power, beckoned to designers, but they had no way to answer the call.
Announcing Torch AR
Today we announce the launch of Torch AR, a 3D design platform that connects the world of web and mobile application design to the vast revolutionary potential of spatial computing.
Today, any mobile designer using the Torch AR app can, with a few simple gestures, design powerful and engaging immersive experiences and share them with the world.
Want to quickly sketch out the idea for a new AR feature for your existing app at the moment inspiration strikes? You can today with Torch.
Want to pull together everyone on your team from offices across the world for a quick review of the latest changes to your mobile AR app prototype? You can today with Torch.
Add the perfect Sketchfab model to your project in a few seconds with a swipe? Design interactions that trigger delightful animations with a few taps? Capture complex workflows without code? You can today with Torch.
Or do you just want to explore 3D and experiment in an environment designed specifically to be familiar to users of 2D design tools like Sketch, InVision or Figma? With Torch, you can.
Torch is Different
Torch is the only design and prototyping app that lets you create directly on the device, in 3D, using augmented reality features. Aside from your mobile device (iOS for now, Android soon), there’s no special hardware required and you do not need game development or coding experience. Design for 3D, in 3D.
Torch is Yours
Torch AR is free. Even as we build more features and services, the design environment we released today will remain free. Everything you build will be yours to share. If you share a project with someone, they can also view it for free in Torch.
We encourage you to share. Share your projects via email through Torch or as videos. Share it with us on social media with the #builtwithtorch hashtag, in our public Slack channel, or directly to us as collaborators. Creativity thrives when shared.
Torch is a Platform
We are not launching an app today. We are launching the first piece of a platform. Torch AR will evolve and improve and with it will come all the pieces needed not just to prototype, but to build, distribute, and manage your spatial application.
We didn’t set out to build a platform but happened upon it out of necessity. In order to build Torch AR, the mobile design tool, we had to solve all the problems involved with building a complex cloud-based mobile AR today. If you are with a company or agency and want to use our platform, we can help. We’d like to hear from you.
Torch is a bridge to a future where anyone can build and share powerful immersive experiences from anywhere to anyone.
Torch AR is the first step onto that bridge.
First of all, thank you all for your interest in Torch. Building the first product at a startup is just as much about building the team. It has been incredibly satisfying as we’ve added each team member — Adam, Tera, Brian, Keith, David, Joules, and Ian— the product has taken on a little of the character of each.
But Torch is not just the result of the effort of the immediate team. Our investors have shown us tremendous support. Jim and Silicon Valley Data Science, Marco and Tipatat at the VR Fund, Matt at Seven Peaks Ventures, Andrew and Scott at Antipodean Ventures, Teppei and Yasushi from GFR, Amitt from Presence Capital, and Halley from Jerome Capital.
One of the challenges of designing for designers is their high expectations. The major benefit is the generosity and quality of their feedback. Pages and pages of thoughtful feedback found its way into this product. Thank you to all you designers who talked to us, including the hundreds of early access users who put up with iterations of the app we can only charitably describe as “interesting attempts.” Especially, we want to send thanks to Sam Brewton, Preston McCauley, Spencer Lindsay, Dimitri Reuse, and Sven Mesecke who tried every version.
Thanks to Natasha Jen for sharing her enthusiasm and experience and in seeing our potential so early.
And thanks to the first class of immersive product designers — Susie Andreson, Phillip Nguyen, Simon Sotelo and Manxue Wang — who in recent months showed us just how powerful Torch can be in the hands of designers without a ton of previous 3D experience but with a whole lot of passion and curiosity.
It is for all of you that we are thankful and will keep working hard.
— Paul and the Torch Team