Augmented Reality, or AR, opens up a world of possibilities for mobile applications. But SDK can make or break a program. Let’s take a look at how AR is shaking up app development.
AR: Fad or Future?
How big is AR? It’s pretty huge. As it turns out, imposing computer images on top of a user’s view of the real world opens up tons of options. While the technology is most visible in Snapchat and Facebook filters and in video games like Pokemon Go, its applications are limitless. Check out some of the ways AR can improve your mobile app!
To make the most out of AR technology, you need the right SDK. Here are some of Fyresite’s top picks.
Spark AR Studio
Spark AR is heavily customizable and easy to use. It’s also one of Fyresite’s personal favorites. You can import 3d objects from Facebook’s free library or models of your own design through Sketchfab. Then, you can position and manipulate these objects with the SDK’s fast and reliable plane and object tracking. Want to capture video of your coworker in space or your mother scuba diving? No problem! Spark AR lets you segment out a background without a green screen or big budget. The SDK is easy to use, but if you want guidance, their website is full of tutorials.
We recently played around with this SDK to prototype a 3D transit map of the Bay Area Transit System or BART. When a commuter places their BART ticket or Clipper Card underneath their phone camera, a 3D map is imposed over the ticket and moves freely with the user’s hand. Ideally, the finished product would pull real-time data to show live train locations relative to the user’s current position. This way, new and old BART users alike could plan stops without any hassle.
It’s no surprise that Apple’s ARKit remains a popular choice for developers working on AR applications for iOS devices. After all, the SDK utilizes iPhone and iPad Pro hardware seamlessly. ARKit uses the apple camera and motion sensors for high-quality 2D image detection and tracking for AR programs triggered by an image or QR code. Users can insert 3D objects into physical spaces with the SDK’s strong horizontal space recognition and light estimation features. And in the latest version, multiple people can view the same AR space from different devices, making ARKit a wonderful choice for multiplayer gaming. The SDK is completely free for personal use, but commercial distribution requires a developer account that costs $99 per year. Learn more about ARKit from their website.
When Apple unveiled ARKit, Google retaliated with ARCore. But while ARKit is only available on iOS devices, ARCore is supported on both iOS and Android.
ARCore provides features that are especially useful for the real-time positioning of 3D objects.
It tracks your phone’s position relative to nearby objects, it recognizes horizontal, vertical, and angled surfaces, and it estimates surrounding light conditions. Best of all, the SDK is completely free. Take a look at ARCore’s online resources to learn more.
With support for phones, tablets, and smart glasses, Wikitude SDK remains a popular choice for mobile AR. The free version comes with powerful SLAM technology that tracks the position of your device, as well as instant 2D and 3D object recognition without any markers. Since it integrates easily with Autodesk Maya, you can import your own 3D models without trouble.
Wikitude offers a free watermarked SDK and a Pro version starting at €2490, or about $2789. Ouch! While Wikitude excels at markerless tracking and scene recognition, the price tag may make the program unappealing for individual developers. Check out the Wikitude pricing page for more information.
Vuforia is supported by Android, iOS, UWP, and Unity, making it easy to implement across platforms. While other SDKs like ARToolKit and EasyAR Basic only offer 2D recognition, Vuforia easily recognizes and tracks both planes and simple 3d objects. This makes Vuforia optimal for positioning 3D objects relative to real-world targets. The SDK integrates easily with Unity plugins, enabling imported models to cleanly connect to a ground plane. The free version comes with 1000 cloud recognitions per month and a watermark, whereas the paid version costs $499. Learn more about the newest version of Vuforia.
DeepAR differs from the rest of the items on this list. Sure, it lacks features like 3D recognition, light estimation, and geolocation, but it specializes in face lenses, like the ones used on Snapchat and Facebook. It quickly recognizes and tracks 70 facial points at 60fps, allowing real-time facial detection and tracking. This AR SDK enables developers to create high-quality rigid objects, deformable masks, and morph masks on mobile and desktop applications. The DeepAR SDK does not have a pricing plan and is only available upon request through a contact form.
Which SDK Is Right for Me?
It depends on what app you’re building. If you’re developing a simple program that shows a static image, Wikitude might not be worth the money. If you’re developing face filters for android devices, Spark or DeepAR will function better than ARKit. With the right SDK, good AR can augment any in-app experience. Reach out to find out how we can build AR into your mobile application.