Augmented Reality (AR) combines visual objects or the virtual world with the real world. It aims to develop an experience where we cannot differentiate between the two.
Smart gadgets have the potential to revolutionize every business from education and healthcare to entertainment and gaming, by bringing digitally created items into our perceived world.
The type of AR app development you choose will rely on the commercial objectives you have for your application. Some primary types of AR apps are:
- Marker-based apps
- Location-based apps
- Gyroscope-based apps
- Real-time location systems (RTLS)
- SLAM apps
It is crucial to know which technologies can be applied to create an AR app. Developers can choose from software development kits (SDKs) or tools that are exclusively designed to build AR apps faster with fewer third-party components. Here are some development tools that can help in designing your AR mobile app.
For creating AR apps based on marker identification there is a collection of open-source libraries called ARToolKit. The key to ARToolKit’s functionality is that it processes graphic data from the mobile camera in real-time mode.
The objects are then presented on the smartphone screen as per their dimensions. With ARToolKit you can design apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and macOS platforms. ARToolKit has some very interesting features:
- The platform uses object, environment and user identification methods to support camera sensor data and additional data from accelerometers and gyroscopes.
- It processes 2D and 3D images.
- It has the support of the OpenGL Utility Toolkit (a library of utilities to simplify programming).
- It has a simple camera calibration code.
Vuforia is possibly one of the most well-known AR frameworks introduced by Qualcomm. The main features that Vuforia offers developers are:
- Vuforia Object Scanner to identify 2D and 3D objects
- Text-to-speech technology with a built-in 100,000-word English vocabulary and the possibility to add more
- VuMarks, which are barcodes that can serve as markers or as data carriers
- Video playback when a specific circumstance occurs (for example, when the target surface or image is detected)
- Every surface can function as a touchscreen because of the virtual buttons
- Smart glasses
- Storing data in the cloud or the device
- Extended tracking to capture an object even after leaving the frame
3. Google ARCore
Though ARCore is Google’s framework for creating AR, it also supports AR app development for Android as well as iOS. With the use of different APIs, ARCore can help your phone sense its surroundings, understand the outside world and interact with information.
Its motion-tracking technology uses the phone’s camera to find interesting objects or features and monitors their movement over time.
- It determines the location and orientation of the phone as it moves across space using a combination of the movement of these points and information from the phone’s sensing devices.
- It can also detect flat surfaces like the table or the floor and can also determine the average lighting in the area around it.
- Its understanding of the real world helps in placing objects or annotations in a way that it blends with the real world.
- Its motion-tracking feature allows you to move around and view objects from an angle.
- It allows working with Java/OpenGL, Unreal and Unity.
The MAXST AR tool is best for developing AR applications and is based on four key elements.
- Image tracker
It detects and follows an image’s plane circuits and supports three tracking modes: Extended (for tracking all objects in the camera’s range of view), Multi and Normal (for tracking up to three objects).
- Instant tracker
It locates a flat area in the camera’s field of view so that a 3D object can be placed over it.
- Visual SLAM
It builds and stores 3D maps that are scaled and expanded outside of the initial frame automatically (which happens along with the movement of the camera from place to place).
- QR/Barcode Scanner
This detects QR codes and barcodes that have been configured.
Kudan is a SLAM tool that shares several characteristics with Vuforia, but it supports only two major platforms, iOS and Android. Some features of Kudan are:
- It has tools for creating high-quality 3D graphics.
- It supports many smartphone camera sensors.
- It has a cloud SLAM system with distributed map generation.
- Map scaling, map separation and map integration are also available.
Another widely used platform for building AR-based apps is Wikitude, which was introduced in 2008 by an Australian software development firm. The most recent version of this SDK is Wikitude SDK 9.12.0 which was released in July 2022.
It is a highly adaptable tool that allows programmers to make specialized solutions and render things through third-party tools while still working on them. However, for this one must use the Wikitude JS SDK or Wikitude Native SDK to create a piece of JS code.
Wikitude gives you access to a full-fledged online studio for arranging static augmented reality items. You just need to upload an image to the studio, add AR objects, generate JS code and paste it into the project. All significant platforms like Android, iOS and Windows support Wikitude. Some features of Wikitude are:
- It renders and imports 3D objects with SLAM technology.
- It builds apps for smart glasses.
- It uses location-based services.
Available in both free and premium versions, ARmedia is a cross-platform framework for creating software based on 3D model tracking. It can not only identify flat images but complex 3D images too. It can efficiently handle large objects with complex geometrical forms. The ARmedia is compatible with iOS, Android and Flash. Some features of ARmedia are:
- It can develop apps for smart glasses.
- Data from the GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer are processed at multiple levels.
- It can manage apps via the cloud.
DeepAR is a fantastic solution for making 3D face masks and lenses. It also supports innovative FX solutions and has a patented motion face-tracking system. DeepAR is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows and WebGL. It identifies real-time faces and specific facial features (over 68 facial points can be recognized in 1 second at the recognition speed of 60 frames per second).