Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that makes it possible to integrate virtual objects into the real world. Unlike virtual reality, which immerses the user completely in a virtual environment, AR extends reality with digital information and graphics.
The best-known example of AR is the Pokémon GO app, which allows players to search for and catch digital characters in their real-world environment.
Augmented reality technology is often used through mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Using cameras, sensors and software, these devices can scan the user's physical environment and insert digital objects into the camera image in real time. Furthermore, there are on AR glasses such as the Hololens 2 whose holographic display projects digital content, such as holographic objects, into the user's field of view. By using gestures and voice commands, the user can interact with the digital objects and place them in their real-world environment.
Augmented reality as an app vs WebAR via the browser
AR with an app and Web AR are two ways to experience augmented reality content on mobile devices. Using augmented reality apps requires downloading and installing a special app on the device, while Web AR can be accessed through a browser.
Using AR through an app usually provides a better and more immersive augmented reality experience because the app is tailored to the specific device and its features. The app can also access the device's collected data such as GPS, camera, accelerometer, and more to create a richer AR experience.
On the other hand, Web AR has the advantage of not requiring the installation of a dedicated app, making it more accessible. Web AR can also be launched directly from a website, making it easier for marketers or developers to create and share AR content.
There are a variety of AR frameworks that help developers create and deploy AR content. The cost of AR frameworks can vary depending on the framework, licensing model, and project requirements. Some AR frameworks are free and open source, while other frameworks require licensing fees or subscription fees.
Here are some popular AR frameworks:
- ARKit: A framework from Apple built into iOS devices that allows developers to create AR content using the device's camera, gyro sensor, and accelerometer. ARKit is Apple's free AR framework. ARKit offers features such as horizontal and vertical surface detection, face detection, positioning AR objects in the real world, and interacting with AR objects through gestures. ARKit also provides a variety of tools and resources to help developers create AR content, including ARKit developer documentation, sample code, and an active developer community. Link to the website
- ARCore: A framework from Google that runs on Android devices and creates AR content using the device's camera, gyro sensor, and accelerometer. ARCore is quite similar to ARKit in terms of features. Apple's framework delivers slightly better tracking due to the better sensor technology of the Apple devices. .Link to the website
- Vuforia: An AR framework that runs on a variety of platforms and allows developers to create AR content using the camera and image recognition. Vuforia offers a free version with limited features and several paid versions with advanced features and support. Link to the website
- Unity AR Foundation: An AR framework based on Unity Engine that enables developers to create AR content for iOS and Android devices. Unity AR Foundation is part of Unity Engine, which offers paid licenses and subscriptions. Link to the website
- Wikitude: A framework that runs on a variety of platforms and allows developers to create AR content using the camera and image recognition. Wikitude offers a free version with limited features and several paid versions with advanced features and support. Link to the website
There are also frameworks that specialize in WebAR
- Google Model Viewer: Google Model Viewer is a free web tool from Google that allows users to view 3D models in an AR or VR environment. The tool is easy to use and supports a variety of 3D model file formats. The framework is free of charge. Link to the website
The cost of AR frameworks
The cost of AR frameworks can also be increased by additional costs such as hosting, data processing, server access, and other infrastructure requirements. Developers should carefully consider the costs and compare the different options to find the most suitable framework for their needs. Costs vary quite a bit from framework to framework. It is also important to note that the success of an AR project depends not only on the choice of framework, but also on the quality of content, usability, and marketing strategy.
The applications of AR Techology
The application areas of AR technology are very diverse and range from the entertainment industry to medical care. Here are some examples:
- Entertainment: AR is being used in the gaming industry to create a more immersive and interactive gaming experience. One example is the app Pokémon Go.
- Education: AR can be used to create interactive learning content that improves student understanding. One example is the anatomy app Augmented Anatomy.
- Tourism: AR can be used in the tourism industry to create virtual tours and city tours that help travelers better understand their surroundings.
- Retail: AR can be used in retail to enable virtual try-on of clothing or furniture items and provide a better shopping experience for the customer.
- Healthcare: AR is used in healthcare to help doctors diagnose and treat patients, as well as to train medical staff.
- Architecture and construction: AR can be used in architecture and construction to create 3D virtual models of buildings and give users a better idea of what the finished building will look like.
- Automotive: AR can be used in the automotive industry to create virtual cockpits and navigation systems and give drivers a better overview of the vehicle.
These are just a few examples that show how diverse the possible applications of AR technology are.