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How to develop augmented reality apps

Augmented Reality is one of the leading developments in the field of technology and artificial intelligence. It immerses the reality with the fictional in ways that can significantly contribute across industries and uses. This article elaborates the fast breakthrough of AR in App Development. 

26th Jul 2018
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Augmented reality (AR) is an upcoming technology which is sure to have a significant impact on our future. Unlike some of the other upcoming technologies which have applications only in certain fields like gaming, augmented reality is much more versatile. You can not just use it for gaming but also for business purposes.

 As a business, developing an augmented reality based application provides you with a distinct edge as compared to the competition. The question which arises though, is how to develop augmented reality apps? Today, we will not only go into the details of what AR is but also help you create a plan concerning the development of an AR app.

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality in simple terms is the process through which you introduce virtual elements into the real world. The platform through which this is done is digital, such as mobile apps, tablets, VR headsets, and so on. 

As the technology is still in the nascent stage, most of the applications use the camera of your smartphone in order to superimpose the virtual element. The camera feed acts as the tool to capture the essence of the real world.

Up until now, these applications work in real time. However, the applications of AR are not just limited to that. You can even add virtual elements to the recorded footage. Before we delve into developing AR applications, we will look into the types of AR applications to get a firm grasp on the development aspect.

Types of augmented reality apps

The augmented reality applications can be divided into two parts:

• Location-based augmented reality apps

The location-based AR apps use the GPS of the mobile device to monitor the location. As a result, when the device is in a certain location, they provide contextual AR capabilities. Pokemon Go mobile gaming application is an example of such an AR app.

In addition to that, the developers can use the same technology to help you get directions, locate your vehicle, or decipher the constellation patterns in the sky at night. The applications are virtually unlimited.

• Maker based AR apps

Maker based AR apps focus on particular objects or brand symbols rather than a location. When they are able to detect that object in the camera feed, they can superimpose the virtual element.

These apps are especially useful for branding and marketing purposes.

Now, we will have a look and delve into specific aspects needed to be considered when developing AR apps.

How to develop AR apps?

When you have analyzed the basic aspects of AR app development, you will realize that it involves superimposing 3D images or text on the video or camera feed which is available on the user device.

As a result, image processing skills are the basic requirement which you need in order to develop an AR app. Thereafter, tracking the markers or the distinct aspects of the real world such as the location will be made possible.

The reason why image processing skills are so crucial is that the images which are superimposed should look real. Only when they are realistic and credible to the user, the application will be able to serve a purpose.

The text or the image should be perfectly aligned with the attributes of the real world. Even though this might seem like a simple task, in reality, it is very tricky to achieve such a balance. This will require proper UI/UX which creates a need to select the right SDK.

Choosing the right Augmented Reality SDK

Before we go into the details of available SDKs, we will look into the parameters which you need to consider while choosing one.

License type: Most of the SDKs will provide you with the free or commercial license. It is a good idea to go with the commercial licenses that will provide you with complete control over the AR application which you create.

Platforms supported: You need to keep in mind that ideally, both Android, as well as iOS, should be supported. There are certain SDKs which are compatible with the universal Windows platform as well. In addition to that, some of the platforms have compatibility with Mac OS as well. The more the compatibility, the better it is for you.

Smart glasses support: Smart glasses are fast emerging as a tool for AR applications. That is why you have to find out in advance whether the SDK which you are selecting has smartglass support or not.

Compatibility with Unity: If you have developed games before, you will know that unity is the most advanced game engine. It can also be used for developing AR applications. So, before selecting the SDKs you have to make sure that your SDK is compatible with this gaming engine.

Local recognition compatibility: Only when your SDKs are able to support local recognition, you can freely develop your AR application. In addition to that, it should include a geolocation feature as well.

SLAM: SLAM stands for simultaneous localization and Mapping. With the help of this technology, you can track the camera feed in real time and synchronize it with the map and GPS. It is a good idea to choose an SDK which provides this feature. Based on these few parameters, choosing the right SDK will become easier for you.

Follow up to get insight on some of the SDKs which you can use for developing an AR app.

Available Augmented Reality tools for developing AR app

The number of available AR SDKs to be used by an app agency are plenty. We have shortlisted the 2 best AR SDKs to help you in developing an AR app.

Vuforia 

Vuforia has quite a few features on offer which will help you with the development of your app. Some of these features are:

○ It can recognize 2D and 3D objects

○ It has an extensive vocabulary of 1,000,000 words

○ It can initiate video playback on programmed triggers

○ It has the capability to generate barcodes

○ It offers cloud recognition as well as local recognition

Moreover, the SDK is entirely free. If you require additional function, that is only when you need to pay for it.

Wikitude

Wikitude allows you to create both market-based as well as location-based AR applications. Some of the features which it has on offer include:

○ It helps you instantly track various environments in real time or from the recorded feeds. It can use the SLAM technology to allow you to track the feeds and synchronize them.

○ It provides geolocation support

○ It offers you cloud recognition as well as on device recognition

○ It provides you with a highly efficient tracking feature in case the camera loses the focus of the marker

This SDK is completely compatible with other frameworks like Appcelerator Titanium and Xamarin. Also, they offer a free trial which ensures that you are able to try out the SDK before actually opting for the commercial license. Thus, if you would like to go ahead with developing an AR app, these are the 2 SDKs which you should definitely look into.

Conclusion:

With all said and done, one thing which you have to keep in mind is that developing AR apps will definitely put you above your competition. Most of the businesses are still not capitalizing on the technology.

That is why utilizing the technology at an early stage will definitely benefit your business. With the help of our guide, you can actually create a blueprint to develop your own Augmented Reality app.

It is no longer an obscure technology like earlier. There are plenty of tools to help you out as we have listed them above. So it’s time to make use of this new technology and gain an advantage over your competition.

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