Augmented reality (AR) technology has reported unprecedented growth over the recent years. Market leaders like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have turned the industry into a great boom. Currently, AR technology is worth $15.3 billion. By 2024, the AR and virtual reality (VR) market is projected to reach 72.8 billion. We anticipate seeing a boom in augmented reality app development in 2021 as well. Read this article to keep up with trends and dive into some details of augmented reality apps.
We will cover the following topics:
- What is an augmented reality app and how to create it?
- Top X Augmented Reality SDK for Mobile Apps
- What are the Main Criteria to Choose an Augmented Reality SDK?
- Types of Augmented Reality Applications
- Augmented Reality SDK Comparison.
What is an Augmented Reality App and How to Create it?
AR apps will change the way we perceive the world. These are software applications that merge digital content with real-life experience. AR technology is not the same as Virtual Reality. In augmented reality, virtual elements are integrated with real beings whereas in the case of virtual reality the whole experience is presented as a simulation. Unlike virtual reality (VR), there is no need for any equipment like headsets, goggles, or other extra devices. You will need your device’s camera and an AR app.
The next question comes, ‘’how to create it?’’ If you are new in programming, pick a platform like Android, iOS, Glass, or something else. You will get a software development kit (SDK) with most of these.
· Android — Java
· iOS — Swift, previously Objective-C
First thing first, you need to know the Augmented Reality SDK. Let’s get into it.
Top 5 Augmented Reality SDKs for Mobile Apps
An augmented reality SDK (software development kit) is a basic technological software engine. With the help of the engine, new AR apps and experiences are created and developed. AR SDK plays the role of merging content with the real world. Let’s see what are some of the best-augmented reality SDKs for mobile apps.
This is one of the best platforms for augmented reality app development. With an impressive set of functions, it is leading the market. Vuforia augmented reality SDK offers the following:
· Recognizes texts;
· Has video playback function;
· Offers VuMarks — Vuforia’s own barcodes;
· Offers cloud or on-device recognition;
· Different surfaces can be used as a touch screen;
· 2D and 3D object recognition.
Pricing: a free version, classic version — $499 one time, cloud — $99 per month, and Pro version for commercial use.
- Apple ARKit
ARKit is designed solely for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. This is a free tool. You will see so many examples of how to build AR apps and games using ARKit on the internet. Here what it can do:
· Tracks the environment;
· Enables iPhones to scan the environment;
· Estimates the amount of light in the real world;
· Can be used in combination with the Unreal and Unity engines.
Kudan is a popular Android and iOS AR SDK. It doesn’t support other platforms. On the other hand, Kudan does have Unity support.
Pricing: Kudan AR SDK & Unity Plugin are Free.
EasyAR SDK boasts an impressive set of functions, such as unlimited recognition queries and cloud recognition. The free version is capable of up to 1,000 on-device targets.
Pricing: Free, not for commercial use, Professional edition — $39/month, Classic edition — $1299/License Key
Most important capabilities of the Wikitude AR SDK:
· Instant tracking for mapping environments;
· Geolocation support for adding location-based services;
· On-device and cloud recognition;
· Extended tracking function.
Pricing: Professional version costs €2490/annual per app, Pro3D costs €2990/annual per app, Cloud costs €4490/annual per app, Enterprise version.
What are the Main Criteria to Choose an Augmented Reality SDK?
There are so many SDKs in the market and choosing the right one for your augmented reality app development is not easy. Below are some criteria you should consider when you are in search of AR SDK.
Money is an issue for any entrepreneur. You need to think about the type of license you are going to get. Generally, free SDKs have rather limited capabilities. You’d better select a commercial license when you develop your augmented reality app.
You increase your customer base when you choose an SDK with multiple platforms. Most tools support Android and iOS, but you should also check whether it supports Windows mobile and macOS. For example, if you develop an app for Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Mobile, you will need an AR app for Windows-operated smartphones and computers.
Unity is a game engine popular in the world. It is used for powering AR apps. With Unity, you can create some of the best graphics. So, check if your SDK is compatible with Unity.
Unlike Smartphones, smart glasses allow a hands-free experience. These glasses are becoming popular especially with Microsoft HoloLens, Vuzix Blade 3000, and more. You will gain a competitive edge if you build your app with these gadgets.
It’s definitely a must to check whether your SDK supports cloud recognition. This is important for your AR mobile app to recognize lots of different markers. These markers are stored in the cloud and your app does not need much space on a mobile device. They are AR SDKs that recognize only up to 100 markers but there are many that support the recognition of thousands of them.
Your apps need to recognize 3D objects like a ball, toys, books, etc. For that, you need your SDK to support 3D image tracking. This increases your commercial opportunities. For example, 3D object tracking can be used for developing games.
SLAM or Simultaneous Localization and Mapping allows to track the movement of objects and map the environment. SLAM is normally used when GPS does not work, for example, in indoor navigation. SLAM allows remembering the position of the objects while the user moves around.
Types of Augmented Reality Applications
The two types of augmented reality applications are marker-based applications and location-based applications. The first thing you need to decide is which type you’re going to build.
A marker-based AR detects objects in the environment and superimposes the virtual object on top of it. What happens is that the camera scans the input and does the marker. The position of the virtual object will be determined by the geometry and position of the marker. If the camera loses sight of the marker the virtual object is lost and when it comes in view again, the object is placed again.
Location-based AR apps don’t need markers. They use GPS and other positions detected to locate an object. For example, you can find a parking lot with a location-based AR app.
Here are some examples of the use of augmented reality apps.
Games have the potential for augmented reality app development. Examples are “Pokemon Go!” and “Jurassic Park”. These are just stunning examples of AR in the recreation business. However, the potential is more than that.
Augmented reality is used in medical training. For example, in universities students are taught medicine using AR glasses and headsets. It can also be used during operations where it replaces the use of cameras.
AR is particularly used in repairs. Porsche tried this method successfully. The servicemen use ODG smart glasses. They get real-time assistance with Porsche’s Atlanta-based service HQ.
Television Broadcast Apps
AR apps can be used from anything like weather forecasts to sports events. They can also be used in documentaries or live news reporting. We can refer, for example, to BBC General Election news coverage.
Some airports, like Gatwick Airport, use AR apps to help customers to find their gate. This app uses over 2,000 beacons and guides passengers through AR smartphone maps. It is expected that such apps will help airports to solve busy traffic issues in the future.
Design and Modeling Apps
This is one of the most common uses of AR. AR can help designers to have a view of their final designs with ease during the planning phase. This can even expand to city planning.
AR is entering the classroom. They can help teachers to engage their students in real-life experiences that are fun and entertaining. This relates to anything from physics to painting and music.
Now that you know the basics of augmented reality app development, you can choose the most appropriate tool for creating your app. Consider the price and other functionalities and you are ready to develop a highly profitable app that will be used in various businesses and industries.
Learn more about Augmented Reality App Development.