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How to Incorporate AR into App Development

Augmented Reality, or AR, is changing the way we perceive and interact with the world around us.  For those who aren’t familiar with the term, AR combines digital and real-world elements to create something more, a sort of enhancement to the world we live in.

A good example of AR that most people would be familiar with is the Pokemon Go craze that took the world by storm.  By using AR, the game was able to use the camera on a player’s phone or another mobile device to inject fictional Pokemon characters into the player’s real environment.

People were amazed by this blending of reality and fantasy, but the possibilities go far beyond merely building games into someone’s everyday surroundings.  AR apps can be used for a myriad of other things, like “sampling” cosmetics without having to put them on, immersing yourself within a movie, and much more.

Given the possibilities, let’s take a look at how you can incorporate AR into your iOS or android app development process, and take advantage of everything it has to offer.

Define the type of AR app you want to design.

There are two basic types of AR apps you can create: location-based, and marker-based.  Location-based AR apps use GPS data to determine your location and use it to place the AR objects that become part of your experience.  Marker-based is designed to recognize images and generate AR objects based on that. You should have a clear idea of which way you want to go with this before you proceed any further.

Decide what you want your AR app to do.

Now that you’ve decided on the underlying mechanics of your AR app, you have to decide what you specifically want it to do.  Do you want to create games that inject virtual characters and other objects into a player’s surroundings? Do you want to let customers “sample” makeup colors without having to try them on?  Perhaps let them see what a new desk might look like in their office? This is the fun part, but also one of the most critical because you need to give customers something they want to use.

Pick which platforms your app should be available on.

It goes without saying that if you put so much time, effort, and money into designing an AR app, you want to distribute it on a platform that people actually use.  You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least get onto the two most popular mobile platforms, iOS, and Android, but consider support for Windows, Mac, or other devices if it makes sense.

Decide if you want to include support for smart glasses.

Smart glasses are becoming an increasingly popular element of virtual experiences, and supporting that could make your app more attractive to prospective users.  They provide a hands-free experience and a more immersive one than that, so if they would fit with the core functionality, it’s certainly something to consider.

Make sure you do a thorough job of estimating the cost of this project.

Not the most fun part of the process, but you need to make sure you know what you’re going to spend on this.  Costs include AR development kits, paying artists, advertising, and other expenses can add up quickly, so make sure you look before you leap.


AR offers many amazing benefits to take our world to the next level, and by following the tips above, you’ll be in good position to set yourself up as a pioneer of this fledgling technology, and a leader of its transformative effect on our entire world, both real and virtual.

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