Ryan Pfister Ryan Pfister -4 years ago 170
Swift Question

How do I programmatically move an ARAnchor?

I'm trying out the new ARKit to replace another similar solution I have. It's pretty great! But I can't seem to figure out how to move an ARAnchor programmatically. I want to slowly move the anchor to the left of the user.

Creating the anchor to be 2 meters in front of the user:

var translation = matrix_identity_float4x4
translation.columns.3.z = -2.0
let transform = simd_mul(currentFrame.camera.transform, translation)

let anchor = ARAnchor(transform: transform)
sceneView.session.add(anchor: anchor)

later, moving the object to the left/right of the user (x-axis)...

anchor.transform.columns.3.x = anchor.transform.columns.3.x + 0.1

repeated every 50 milliseconds (or whatever).

The above does not work because transform is a get-only property.

I need a way to change the position of an AR object in space relative to the user in a way that keeps the AR experience intact - meaning, if you move your device, the AR object will be moving but also won't be "stuck" to the camera like it's simply painted on, but moves like you would see a person move while you were walking by - they are moving and you are moving and it looks natural.

Please note the scope of this question relates only to how to move an object in space in relation to the user (ARAnchor), not in relation to a plane (ARPlaneAnchor) or to another detected surface (ARHitTestResult).


Answer Source

You don't need to move anchors. (hand wave) That's not the API you're looking for...

Adding ARAnchor objects to a session is effectively about "labeling" a point in real-world space so that you can refer to it later. The point (1,1,1) (for example) is always the point (1,1,1) — you can't move it someplace else because then it's not the point (1,1,1) anymore.

To make a 2D analogy: anchors are reference points sort of like the bounds of a view. The system (or another piece of your code) tells the view where it's boundaries are, and the view draws its content relative to those boundaries. Anchors in AR give you reference points you can use for drawing content in 3D.

What you're asking is really about moving (and animating the movement of) virtual content between two points. And ARKit itself really isn't about displaying or animating virtual content — there are plenty of great graphics engines out there, so ARKit doesn't need to reinvent that wheel. What ARKit does is provide a real-world frame of reference for you to display or animate content using an existing graphics technology like SceneKit or SpriteKit (or Unity or Unreal, or a custom engine built with Metal or GL).

Since you mentioned trying to do this with SpriteKit... beware, it gets messy. SpriteKit is a 2D engine, and while ARSKView provides some ways to shoehorn a third dimension in there, those ways have their limits.

ARSKView automatically updates the xScale, yScale, and zRotation of each sprite associated with an ARAnchor, providing the illusion of 3D perspective. But that applies only to nodes attached to anchors, and as noted above, anchors are static.

You can, however, add other nodes to your scene, and use those same properties to make those nodes match the ARSKView-managed nodes. Here's some code you can add/replace in the ARKit/SpriteKit Xcode template project to do that. We'll start with some basic logic to run a bouncing animation on the third tap (after using the first two taps to place anchors).

var anchors: [ARAnchor] = []
override func touchesBegan(_ touches: Set<UITouch>, with event: UIEvent?) {

    // Start bouncing on touch after placing 2 anchors (don't allow more)
    if anchors.count > 1 {
        startBouncing(time: 1)
    // Create anchor using the camera's current position
    guard let sceneView = self.view as? ARSKView else { return }
    if let currentFrame = sceneView.session.currentFrame {

        // Create a transform with a translation of 30 cm in front of the camera
        var translation = matrix_identity_float4x4
        translation.columns.3.z = -0.3
        let transform = simd_mul(currentFrame.camera.transform, translation)

        // Add a new anchor to the session
        let anchor = ARAnchor(transform: transform)
        sceneView.session.add(anchor: anchor)

Then, some SpriteKit fun for making that animation happen:

var ballNode: SKLabelNode = {
    let labelNode  = SKLabelNode(text: "
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