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Augmented Reality Apps – Starter Kit

We learnt about the basics of Augmented Reality and it’s applications across various fields in the previous article. However, one wonders how the concept of AR can be useful for him. There isn’t an app for every individual’s own requirement. So here we’re going to discuss some ways in which a person can make his or her own Augmented Reality Apps in order to make his work easier.

The first and foremost thing required is a creative thought or some unique idea which you want to turn into a reality. Actually the first and foremost requirement is an Internet connection, but since you’re already reading this I guess you have that part covered. Next you need a smartphone (as if someone doesn’t have that) or tablet with Android or iOS. All that’s left are AR tools, which we’ll discuss under. Before starting, we must ask three basic questions – WHERE to display, WHAT to display and HOW to display.

There are five basic AR tools which can be used to create AR Apps-

  Product

Company

License

Supported Platforms

ARPA SDKs

Arpa Solutions

Commercial*

Android, iOS (ARPA SDKs), Google Glass (ARPA GLASS SDK), Android, iOS, Windows PC (ARPA Unity Plugin)

ARLab SDKs

ARLab

Commercial

Android, iOS

DroidAR

Free and Commercial

Android

Metaio SDK

Metaio

Free and Commercial

Android, iOS, Windows PC, Google Glass, Epson Moverio BT-200, Vuzix M-100, Unity

Vuforia SDK

Qualcomm

Free and Commercial

Android, iOS, Unity

Wikitude SDK

Wikitude GmbH

Commercial*

Android, iOS, Google Glass, Epson Moverio, Vuzix M-100, Optinvent ORA1, PhoneGap, Titanium, Xamarin

 

ARPA SDKs 

Image (multi-)detection and (multi-)tracking, 3-D object rendering in real time, as well as user interaction with 3-D objects (e.g. selection, rotation, scaling) are some of the features that ARPA SDK offers for building AR apps on iOS and Android. ARPA GPS SDK complements ARPA SDK with geolocation-based AR functionality: it allows you to define your own POIs that, when detected, the user can select them and get more information about them or even perform actions on them (e.g. the “take-me-there” action that displays a map with directions to the selected POI). ARPA GLASS SDK and ARPA Unity Plugin offer similar functionality with ARPA SDK for Google Glass and the Unity game engine, respectively. It is worth noting that Arpa Solutions, the company behind these SDKs, have over the years developed their own AR platform, some of the features of which (e.g. face recognition and virtual buttons) might at some point be transferred also to the SDKs.

ARLab SDKs

With AR Browser SDK you can add and remove POIs independently from the scene in real time, interact with them (e.g. touch them or point the camera to them) and perform actions on them (e.g. send SMS or share on Facebook). Image Matching SDK allows you to create your own local matching pool with thousands of images (loaded both from local resources and remote URLs), and use it to match any image without any connection to the internet, while it also supports QR code and barcode recognition. Except for these two SDKs, ARLab will soon launch Object Tracking, Image Tracking and Virtual Button SDKs. All SDKs are available for both Android and iOS.

DroidAR

DroidAR is an open-source framework that adds location-based AR functionality to Android apps. Gesture (e.g. full turn) detection, support for static and animated 3-D objects (using the model loaders from the libGDX game development framework) that the user can interact with (e.g. click on them), and marker detection are part of the functionality that DroidAR offers and that is only shaded by the poor documentation that exists for the project. There is a section on the project README file on GitHub that gives an overview of a closed-source version of DroidAR, DroidAR 2, which seems to have some interesting enhancements compared to its open-source counterpart (e.g. SLAM tracking and a jMonkeyEngine plugin).

Metaio SDK

Metaio SDK supports among others 2-D image, 3-D object, face, SLAM and location tracking, barcode and QR code scanning, continuous visual search (both offline and online through Metaio CVS), and gesture detection. Metaio has also designed their own AR scripting language, AREL (Augmented Reality Experience Language) that allows you to develop your AR apps using common web technologies (HTML5, XML, Javascript) and deploy them everywhere. Metaio SDK can be used to develop AR apps for Android, iOS, Windows PC, Google Glass, Epson Moverio BT-200 and Vuzix M-100 or using Unity.

Vuforia

Multi-target detection, target tracking, virtual buttons, Smart TerrainTM, and Extended Tracking are some of the features of Vuforia SDK. Vuforia supports the detection of several kinds of targets (e.g. objects, images, English text). Especially for image recognition purposes Vuforia allows apps to use databases that are either local on the device or in the Cloud, The platform is available for Android, iOS and Unity. There is also a version of the SDK for smart glasses (namely Epson Moverio BT-200, Samsung GearVR, and ODG R-6 and R-7) that is currently moving to its beta phase and is open for early access applications from qualified developers.

Wikitude AR SDK

Wikitude AR SDK supports image recognition and tracking, 3-D model rendering and animations (supports only the Wikitude 3-D format), video overlays, location-based tracking and image, text, button, video and HTML augmentations. Wikitude AR SDK is available for Android, iOS, Google Glass, Epson Moverio, Vuzix M-100 and Optinvent ORA1, and as a plugin for PhoneGap, a module for Titanium and a component for Xamarin.

Thus there are a number of platforms for developing AR apps. It’s up to one’s requirements and comfort level regarding which one he/ she wants to use. In the next article, we’ll learn about some very useful applications of Augmented Reality and how they are can be used in our day to day life.

*POI: Point Of Interest

It is the common expression for a place on maps, navigations systems or route planners. These places are considered to have an exceptional meaning for people - they embody a special interest regarding an activity on that place such as a restaurant, a hotel, a petrol station.

*Geolocation

The identification of the geographic location of an object.

Saksham Garg

I love to read and explore new ideas. I take pleasure in expressing my views on such topics and sharing it, thus learning from my mistakes and improving. I have a very positive attitude towards life which also explains my love for humour. I hope to grow and learn as much as I can in life.