AR is the artificial environment that is created by combining digital with certain aspects of the user’s physical world. In a world created by AR, artificial elements are introduced to the user’s physical environment that enhance the user’s perception of reality. Through the years, AR has been widely embraced by application developers as well as users. A prime example is its usage in applications like Snapchat and Pokémon Go. The popularity of these apps marks the rapid growth and development of AR. You may see other successful AR application here.
As per a recent report by Statista, mobile apps based in AR generated a revenue of $884.1 million in 2017, and the revenue is forecasted to reach $6,218.23 million by 2020. The same statistics also mirror the increase in users who generate content using AR-based apps: That number is predicted to grow five-fold, from 60 million users in 2013 to 200 million users by 2020.
Getting Into AR: The Two Approaches
Basically, AR uses two approaches: maker-based and location-based.
In the maker-based approach, the software identifies a pattern, sign, or symbol when the camera scans it and digital content, like an image or a video, is projected on the surface of the symbol or sign. A marker could be made of one frame from the beginning of a video. However, when it is seen through a smartphone, the video starts playing perfectly and the marker image offers some context for the user of what they can hope to experience when they see the AR content. The best example for this is QR codes, which act like the barcodes we scan in supermarkets.
Meanwhile, the location-based approach is used mainly for navigation purposes. In this approach, a user’s location is determined, and after recording the present location of the user’s device data using maps, details on the surrounding places are given.
AR Application in Businesses
There is a broad range of sectors benefiting from AR, from Gaming to Education, to Travel; Retail to Entertainment. The following are some of the ways in which AR apps can benefit users:
- In-store experience: AR-based mobile apps can simulate products in actual size in virtual trial rooms, thus giving customers a virtual in-store experience. Some examples of AR retail apps are Sephora, L’Oréal, and the Converse shoe sampler.
- Online shopping: Demo videos that provide more details and videos of unboxing items give an in-store experience to shoppers. With AR, shoppers are offered visualization and configuration of the product in the real world, which will help to eliminate the chances of doubt and abandoned shopping carts.
- AR maps: When AR is integrated into maps, it helps to project more details on nearby places when it is used with technologies like geolocation.
- Travel: AR-based apps can make possible digital walkthroughs of places and ambiance while delivering historical information and panoramic views of sites.
- Education: AR enables learning to be more interactive, which ensures that the information imparted has a longer retention rate. Some of the prominent AR-based apps in education are Chromville Science and ZooBurst.
- Entertainment: Entertainment apps like Snapchat and Musical.ly congest the market of AR apps available today.
AR Development Tools
At Xenber, below are the few AR development tools that we recommended:
- Apple ARKit
- Google ARCore
With iOS11, Apple introduced its own ARKit, announced during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2017. Here are the features of Apple’s augmented reality SDK for iOS:
- Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) allowing to track en environment accurately without any additional calibration.
- Robust face tracking to easily apply face effects or create facial expressions of 3D characters.
- Tracking the light level of environment to apply the correct amount of lighting to virtual objects.
- Detecting horizontal planes like tables and floors, vertical and irregularly shaped surfaces.
- Detecting 2D objects and allows developers to interact with them.
- Integration with third-party tools like Unity and Unreal Engine.
This toolkit works with Java/OpenGL, Unity, and Unreal. It provides features such as:
- Motion tracking. ARCore can determine the position and orientation of the device using the camera and spot the feature points in the room. That helps to place virtual objects accurately.
- Environmental understanding. Due to the possibility of detecting horizontal surfaces, you can place virtual objects on tables or on the floor. This feature can be also used for motion tracking.
- Light estimation. This technology allows your app to match the lighting of the environment and to light virtual objects so they look natural within the surrounding space. With the help of smart light tracking developers can now create very realistic objects.
- Recognizes multiple objects including boxes, cylinders, and toys as well as images.
- Supports text recognition including about 100,000 words or a custom vocabulary.
- Allows creating customized VuMarks, which look better than a typical QR-code.
- Allows creating a 3D geometric map of any environment using its Smart terrain feature
- Turns static images into full motion video that can be played directly on a target surface.
- Provides a Unity Plugin.
- Supports both Cloud and local storage
ARToolKit is an open-source tool to create augmented reality applications. Even though it’s a free library, it provides a rather rich set of features for tracking, including:
- Unity3D and OpenSceneGraph Support.
- Supports both single and dual camera.
- GPS and compasses support for creation of location-based AR apps.
- Possibility to create real-time AR applications.
- Integration with smart glasses.
- Multiple Languages Supported
- Automatic camera calibration.
- 3D recognition and tracking.
- Image recognition and tracking.
- Cloud recognition (allows to work with thousands of target images hosted in the cloud).
- Location-based services.
- Smart glasses integration.
- Integration with external plugins, including Unity.