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January 19, 2022

How to Develop Augmented Reality Apps: Benefits and Pitfalls

Augmented reality is advancing rapidly, and it will soon conquer the tech market. If you'd like to how to create an AR application, this article is a must-read.

Dasha Rizoy

Head of Business Development

The recent technology trends vary widely. Some people are still wondering how to build an app like Clubhouse and some are moving on to more future-proof trends like AR. Augmented reality may not be as widely spread as virtual reality, but it’s certainly a rising trend in the realm of technology. In recent years, industries in several sectors have adopted augmented reality as the means to achieve their goals. We're sure you've already seen or used an app that enhances the real world with interactive, digital elements. That's bound to continue with increasing speed because augmented reality applications enhance the potential for audience engagement.

In this article, we are going to talk about the most crucial aspects of AR development like its benefits for your business, the potential drawback that you may face, the tech stack, and costs. 

What is Augmented Reality, and How Does It Work?

AR app development, as one would naturally expect, is a matter of detail. To do it correctly—to use the technology to reach the user in a way nothing else can—is to cover all the specifics and contingencies. First, though, let’s talk about the term "AR" and what it really means. Augmented reality is the technology used to superimpose virtual objects over the real world in real-time. In other words, augmented reality combines the physical and virtual realms in a way that's transparent to the user. Seeing is believing, as the saying goes, and nowhere is it truer than in the world of AR.

Augmented reality requires the use of technical systems, including a camera and dedicated software that analyzes the given space and places digital objects within it. So, generally, the process is as follows:

  • The camera captures an image of the space in its field of view.

  • Depending on the type of AR app, it figures out how to place the object in that field of view.

  • The object is positioned by the app, and the user sees the result.

These processes take place concurrently, making possible a level of interaction that's stunningly realistic.

You may have a fundamental question: How does AR differ from VR? The answer is simple: Augmented reality places digital objects within the image of an actual environment. Virtual reality (VR), however, creates a digital environment and brings you there by means of a device such as VR glasses.

Market Trends and Insights

The following statistics from trusted sources demonstrate the growing popularity and influence of augmented reality:

Augmented Reality trends and Insights

Those remarkable statistics indicated that augmented reality has become widespread in certain business areas. Let's look at the most successful AR market players and see what they offer.

The Leading AR Apps

Most industries continue to explore the potential of AR technology, but some applications have earned the trust of users around the world:

  • IKEA Place

Obviously, this app is dedicated to home decor and interior design. IKEA Place lets the user choose a piece of furniture or a decor element (the app has more than 2,000 items) and virtually place it in the prospective room. The user can also move the object around and change its size to maintain its scale within the space.

  • GIPHY World

This app adds a wild range of colors to the real world. It adds entertaining, eye-catching GIFs to the screen and turns any room into a festival of fun. There's a collection of prepared sets for various holidays from birthdays to Christmas, but users can also add images from the company's official website.

  • Snapchat

We know Snapchat as a fun social media with a focus on visual content and amusing, dynamic lenses. However, Snapchat also has an AR studio called Snap AR, which lets users create AR lenses and use them in the app. To date, 2.5 million lenses have been created by Snapchat users, and the number continues to rise.

  • Augment

Augmented reality isn't for entertainment alone, because it's also useful in e-commerce. Augment makes that point beautifully. It's a service that lets owners of online shops visualize their products and display them to customers. It’s also helpful in regard to sales in a given field or territory, where temporary offline vending will take place.

  • YouCam Makeup

Another way to use AR is to experiment with a new look without having to buy cosmetics first. YouCam Makeup lets the user test the makeup options before buying one or more products. It makes for a more informed purchase because the range of brands and products is vast.

Types of Augmented Reality Applications

An AR app development begins with a question: How do you want your app to function? You and your team can choose one of the following approaches to AR functionality:

Types of augmented reality applications
  • Marker-based: You create a real-world object such as a QR-code, an image, or a card, and then you place special trigger markers in it. When the camera scans those markers, the app displays the desired scene.

  • Location-based: An application collects and analyzes data about the user’s location (i.e., the immediate environment) and then places the virtual object within it. If you remember the Pokemon GO game, you understand how this type of AR app works.

  • Projection-based: This software projects light on a real object to make it look a certain way. The projection can be interactive too, meaning it will respond to touch or to the movement of the real object.

  • Outlining: These apps are used in cars to help drivers park more easily and safely. They can also be used in construction to facilitate calculations for effective planning.

Let's talk about how those types of AR apps can help your business.

Domain-Based Strategy: The Benefits of an AR App

The majority of AR solutions are associated with gaming and entertainment. It’s obvious: Games place few limits on the imagination, so the potential for options is immense. We’ve already mentioned Pokemon GO, of course. It was a sensational hit just a few years ago. However, other industries have understood the potential of this technology and are using it to enhance user engagement:

AR and VR in various industries
  • Healthcare

The use of AR software in healthcare isn't new, but there are still myriad options for its use in research. Today, many AR apps are used to train specialists and plan surgeries. Visualization makes such processes easier, safer, quicker, and more accurate.

  • Education

VR can do a great deal for learning, which is inherently interactive. With augmented reality, the process of acquiring information and skills becomes more memorable and engaging. Students can see 3-D models of objects and interact with them instead of simply looking at two-dimensional pictures in books. This makes AR particularly useful in the fields of biology, physics, chemistry, and the arts.

  • Retail and e-commerce

Although e-commerce has changed the way people purchase goods and services, there are still some types of products that consumers want to see and touch before they decide whether to buy. AR is ideally suited to that purpose. For example, the user can try on clothing and makeup in real-time without having to visit a brick-and-mortar store.

  • Marketing

Many brands use augmented reality for the purpose of promotion. Sure, it doesn’t look like "Blade Runner 2049," but some cases are worth mentioning. For example, Lacoste boosted sales with an AR app that used virtual try-ons, and Patron Tequila made a promotional app with which the user could have his or her own field of agave plants.

  • Real estate

Architecture and real estate offer considerable promise in regard to augmented reality. With the help of three-dimensional modeling, it’s easy to understand whether a structural design will fit a given location. 

Generally, regardless of your business area, the creation of an AR application will contribute to your communication with clients. It will also provide access to new opportunities.

AR App Development Tools

There are plenty of software development kits (SDKs) that will help you and your team build an augmented reality app. Sure, the tech stack you ultimately choose will be contingent upon the app’s specifications, complexity, and purpose, but some tools have already demonstrated their value in the creation of AR solutions.

  • Vuforia

This is one of the most popular SDKs for mobile AR development because it tracks marks in real-time and places objects in an image of the actual environment. Additionally, the SDK supports text recognition with an extensive vocabulary.

  • Google ARCore

Google’s AR framework gives you the power to create engaging, attractive compositions. ARCore can track motion, analyze the lighting in the room and define the angles. These features contribute a lot to the realism of virtual objects.

  • Apple ARKit

This framework has a feature called Visual Inertial Odometry, which precisely tracks the real-world environment so as to position objects with extreme accuracy. It's also very good in regard to face tracking.

  • Wikitude 

This SDK was originally built for use in the creation of location-based AR apps. However, Wikitude gradually acquired image recognition, tracking, and the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) feature, which makes it one of the best SDKs for AR apps.

  • Kudan

The Kudan SDK can help you create marker-based and markerless apps. With the latter approach, it uses elements (such as corners and edges) within the environment as points and boundaries.

Here’s a comparison table of the tools we've mentioned:

NameTypePlatformsGeolocationUnity3DSLAMPrice
VuforiaSDKAndroid, iOS, UWP, smart glassesNoYesYes> $99/mo.
Google ARCoreFrameworkAndroid, iOS, smart glassesYesYesYesFree
Apple ARKitFrameworkiOS, smart glassesYesYesYesFree / > $50/mo.
WikitudeSDKAndroid, iOS, UWP, smart glassesYesYesYes> 2,490 €/yr.
KudanSDKAndroid, iOSYesYesYesFree / >$1,500/yr.

The AR App Development Process

It's important to define the process of creating an AR app because it will give you a clear vision of your goals. The following steps should be completed if you want to make a successful app:

  1. Decide on your niche and target audience: It will help you understand what features to implement and how to approach the market. Additionally, research your competitors to know what the market already offers.

  2. Choose the SDK: We’ve already discussed the most popular kinds in the previous section. Get a trusted expert to help.

  3. Design and develop: Basically, this is where you'll create the product. We recommend starting with an MVP in order to see if your solution is what the audience will want.

  4. Test: You certainly don’t want to launch an app that freezes and has bugs. Confirm the performance of your product before showing it to potential users.

  5. Launch and support: Once your app is available, monitor audience feedback and quickly respond to any issues that arise.

Augmented Reality App Development Cost

It’s hard to say the exact budget for AR application development since it depends on many factors that you must take into account: 

  • The type of app

  • Tech stack

  • The development agency’s hourly rate

  • The complexity of the app

  • The features you want

  • Post-launch processes

If we estimate the time needed for basic AR application development, it will look like this:

StepsHours
Preparatory analysis100-120
Backend50-60
Basic features (moving, rotating, scaling)150-250
GPS500-600
SLAM>800
Design400-500
Testing50-100

Because the average hourly rate in Eastern Europe is $40/hour, the first version of the app with basic functionality or AR app MVP will cost approximately $30,000 to $40,000. However, a more sophisticated application with greater functionality will cost $100,000 or more. Please note: This sum doesn’t include post-launch support.

Pitfalls of AR Mobile App Development You May Face

We have already covered almost all aspects of AR development. However, there is one more important aspect to mention: What risks you may potentially face while working with this technology.

Pitfalls of AR mobile app development
  • Hardware capabilities: Despite smartphones becoming more and more powerful, AR may not work on certain devices or work with lower performance metrics.

  • Legal issues: There aren’t enough regulations of content produced by AR so there could be conflicts.

  • Costs: The more platforms you want your app to support and more actions to do, the more you’d pay for development and maintenance.

Conclusion 

Augmented reality encompasses a wide range of usage cases, but many more will emerge in the coming months. So, by experimenting in an effort to offer something better you'll attract potential customers who want a unique experience. This is your opportunity to become a market leader and get the benefits of adopting mobile AR for your business.

🕶️ What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that displays virtual objects over the real world in real-time.

🕶️ What's the difference between AR and VR?

Augmented reality places digital objects into the real environment, but virtual reality immerses the user in a fictional world.

🕶️ How can AR benefit my business?

AR can significantly boost your sales and make communication with the audience more engaging.

🕶️ What's the cost of AR app development?

Depending on the app’s complexity, the cost of AR application development can vary from $30,000 to $100,000 or more.

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