Adventures in Augmented Reality

by André Esteves

Augmented Reality - next step?


Well as the title says this post is about the story of me adventuring further into the realm of augmented reality possibilities. First of all, the comments presented here are the result of a great deal of research and a lot of testing!

This is a new and exciting area of work. Lots of our clients are keen to explore how they can use AR technologies to deliver engaging audience experiences.

I am sure you are aware of the Pokemon App phenomon – and may, like me, have even been an active participant. Pokemon was a game changer. It has given us a reference point that we can use to ‘explain’ AR and its potential use. Augmented Reality or AR is here to stay.

Obviously there are other interesting projects that use AR like the IKEA Catalogue app that puts furniture at your house or BBC Civilizations AR that allows you to check out artifacts from ancient times.

True to be told AR is an excellent tool to engage with your audience and to make them interact more actively with your app. There are several ways of showing content in your app using augmented reality. Now for the technical bit.

Platforms

We work with our client to figure out the interactivity that works best for them. And because they all need different things it is important that our engagement platform Sensa has the technical capability to deliver all forms without a glitch. 

So I got researching and testing. We needed a high performing solution we could trust and embed into our Sensa platform environment.  We tried Vuforia but it is only free for development not for production. It is a great platform that has been around since early AR days but is it isn’t open source and we like to support open source resources.  Another platform we tried was Kudan and it did check all the boxes regarding the features we needed, it is very simple to setup and has an Android and iOS SDK but it still required some work to make advanced features come to life.

Then I came across ViroAR and the React-Native platform.  This combined solution allowed me to quickly develop an AR feature that we could embed into our platform. It was simple to set up and use and adapt to meet our needs. However, there is a catch.  This combo is designed to utilise the technologies found in certain devices and operating system versions like iPhone 6S and above or iOS11 and Android 7.0.

Delivering an app with such device limitations is often not an option for us as it limited audience reach.  A piece of advice from me is that ViroAR is built on top of ARKit and ARCore both developed by Apple and Google respectively and that makes it future proof. Although something like building a bridge between Kudan and React-Native is also a possibility if a larger target audience is required.


Published by:
André Esteves

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