MarketsandMarkets forecasts a stunning USD 77.0 billion for the augmented reality market by 2025.
Why are augmented reality apps gaining in popularity? First thing first, AR is profitable. Recent studies indicate that buyers give higher value to products and brands with AR. It is also highly accessible on smartphones and increases user engagement. No wonder so many businesses launch new products using an augmented reality app. If you have such an idea, you need to know about augmented reality software. In this article, we will talk about ARKit, ARCore, Vuforia, and AR Foundation with comparisons and elaboration on each of the software.
Augmented Reality (AR) has moved beyond movies and gaming and encompasses new fields of industry like manufacturing and healthcare. Rather than explaining what augmented reality is or is not, let us deep into some examples.
Let’s take the Disney coloring book. A few years ago, Disney created technology that projects coloring book characters in 3D. This technology is a fun and entertaining way for children to use their imagination in a new way.
The Weather Channel is now using technology to illustrate the weather and its effects. For example, the broadcasters are using augmented reality to display a 3D tornado, or flooding, or hurricanes. Just recently Weather Channel drove a virtual car through the studio to show how vehicles lose control on snowy or icy roads.
Now let’s have a look at Augmented Reality software.
ARKit is Apple’s AR platform. It is designed for iOS devices. With the help of ARKit, developers produce apps that enable them to interact with the setting using the camera and sensors. For example, IKEA launched an app to preview IKEA products in your home setting before you make a purchase.
Another great example of an AR app developed by ARKit is the Pokemon Go.
RealityKit is a framework that works with Xcode 11 and iOS 13. With this tool, developers can get images of augmented reality settings.
RealityKit applies native Swift API. It uses Swift’s language functionalities for creating an AR setting.
Reality Composer is an app. It works on iOS and macOS and allows developers to add animations and interactions with the help of USDZ files. With the help of Reality Composer, you can import an existing USDZ file, or create your own.
RealityKit is available in Xcode starting with version 11. It is available at the Apple Developer website under the Applications tab.
You can find Reality Composer Xcode 11 on the Mac. You need to select Xcode from the menu bar and select Reality Composer under Open Developer Tool.
ARCore is a Google SDK. It is an answer to Apple’s ARKit. Unlike ARKit which is limited to the iOS platform, ARCore can create experiences for both iOS and Android. Just like ARKit, ARCore can work with Java/OpenGL, Unity, and Unreal.
An example of ARCore use is eBay. eBay sellers can apply AR technology to decide which box is the right fit. Users find the perfect match by superimposing boxes of different size over the product. This reduces wastage and shipping costs.
Another great example is Curate AR App. The users can apply AR technology to preview their furniture in their space. This reduces transaction costs and increases buying interaction.
The workflow of ARCore depends on the target platform. If you are using Unity3D, you’ll need to install ARCore Unity SDK. If your choice is for Unreal Engine 4, you can do so with GoogleARCore plugin.
Check here, to see ARCore supported devices.
Medical AR application is an example of Vuforia. Doctors could examine a 3D-printed heart and observe specific points of the heart.
Here is a tutorial that will teach you how to integrate Vuforia with Unity and create a simple Image recognition and tracking application.
As you already know Apple and Android have developed their own AR SDKs to develop an AR application. However, you need both SDKs if you want to develop an application for both iOS and Android devices. To solve this issue, Unity has a handy library called AR Foundation. And this framework solves exactly this issue. With the help of AR Foundation, you can build AR applications for both iOS and Android with a single codebase.
Build your Own AR Application
Start with defining the type of augmented reality app. There are four types:
- Marker-Based Augmented Reality
- Location-based Augmented Reality
- Projection Augmented Reality
- Superimposition Based Augmented Reality
Marker-based AR apps recognize images. Location-based AR apps use GPS and more position sensors to actually find your location and generate AR objects. Projection Augmented Reality is the projection of light on a surface. Superimposition Based Augmented Reality provides a replacement view of the object in focus.
Define the functionality of your app.
When you know what features your app will have, you will have a better idea of what SDKs to use.
Define the platform
Some SDKs work only with one or the other platform. There are iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, or other platforms. The two most widely used mobile operating systems, iOS, and Android, maybe enough, but you may want to use more for the future.
Estimate the cost.
Your budget will depend on the type of functionalities. You can build an app with free functionalities but they are rather limited.
To have an idea, consult this table.
Type — Development Time — Approx. Cost
Marker-Based AR — 80–200 hours — $2000-$3000
Marker-Based AR with Animation — 110–250 hours — $2600-$3500
Marker-less AR — 400–510 hours — $10,000-$11,500
Projection-Based AR — 240–360 hours — $6000-$8000
To know what is better for users, let’s see what users like most about AR apps.
AR apps are used for commercial purposes. For example, customers can check whether their newly found piece of furniture can fit into their space. A perfect example of Home Depot that developed an app for users to overlay Home Depot merchandise on any room in their home.
AR apps are also used for practical purposes like at warehouses. For example. DHL uses smart AR glasses to identify the shortest route within a warehouse with the help of lenses.
Of course, AR apps are also used in gaming which is the most fun for the users.
When it comes to developers, the choice of the right AR engine depends on the experience. However, they should also take into account certain factors.
We hope that this article helped you to understand AR SDKs. Each of these engines has its own pluses and minuses and their choice depends on the specific commercial purpose. When it comes to users, they just want it to be fun and useful. Therefore, you must be able to provide users with an AR app that is good for any lighting and surface environments.
One thing is clear that the future of augmented reality apps is bright and no wonder Google and Apple continue investing heavily in AR. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the commercial market will be competitive only with AR soon and new apps will flood the market.
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