Augmented reality is changing the way we see the world, and today thanks to technological advances in mobile phones, the majority of the people have access to this type of experience.
Augmented reality AR is being adopted by many companies, as it provides them with a tool to enrich their customers' experience with the products and services it offers, as well as assistance possibilities in complex processes that the company develops internally.In this article, we will explore what augmented reality is, its types, real applications; What are the possibilities and difficulties to implement it in mobile devices.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality AR, is considered a semi-immersive virtual reality experience, since it mixes digital elements with elements of reality, so that we have computer-generated objects, which are displayed on images of real environments captured with a camera, the placement of these objects takes into account the dimensions and characteristics of real space, having proportion and location in space, all of the above generated in real time.
In my opinion, it is easier to see than to explain; so next I show you how to explore a space suit in the living room of the house.
To achieve this experience, the application made use of elements such as the cell phone's camera, GPS antenna, compass and accelerometer; to determine where the device was relative to the virtual object and thus provide the appropriate images of the object in space. Incredible, right?
Types of augmented reality
There are different types of augmented reality that are grouped into 2 main categories, which are:
- Marker-based AR are applications that must recognize an object through the camera to be activated, so a real-world object is the reference to generate the animation, which can be above, next to or below the reference object. This real object can be a logo, a cup, a QR code or a cup holder among others; as shown in the following exercise.
- Markerless AR are more versatile applications, in which the user decides where to put the object and how to orient it, thanks to the fact that surfaces can be identified through the camera, so the user can indicate where to place the virtual object; An example of this is the space suit that I showed at the beginning.
Commercial and business uses
Have you used an Instagram or TikTok filter? Well, these apps make use of AR.
AR allows stores to let their customers know and review their products before buying them, an example of this is the IKEA furniture store, which has an app that allows its customers to locate the furniture in the spaces where they want to place it, to evaluate its aspect and relationship with the space, in other words, that the dimensions of the furniture coincide with the space destined for it.
AR can support manufacturing processes, providing additional information on how to perform a task, mixing virtual elements with reality. An example of this is the company Boeing, which equipped its wiring technicians with augmented reality glasses, to guide them in the wiring process of an aircraft. The results were reduction of time and reduction of errors to almost zero.
The challenge of implementing AR on mobile devices
After understanding a bit about AR, the next step is to understand how this technology can be implemented, its technical difficulty and cost.
- How, in the case of mobile phones, it can be managed in an app or on the web, the first option is the most powerful, offers the best performance/quality, access to the best features of this technology and offline operation. The second option on the web has lower performance/quality and requires being online, but it is easy to access since it does not require installing an app and it costs less to produce, since it is multiplatform.
- Technical difficulty, it is not greater than with other technologies, given that it works with an SDK (Software Development Kit), in the same way as other functionalities are worked on a regular web or mobile application.
- Cost, depends of the project and its features, but in general, it should be slightly higher than that a standard web or mobile application. It is important to take into account the acquisition of 3D objects, which are files that can have a significant cost , according to their characteristics and origin (who supplies them).
Although AR augmented reality seems from the future, the reality is that it has been among us for quite some time, and has developed enough to be easy to use and accessible through our mobile devices. Its cost aren´t far from a regular web/mobile application and it is capable of providing interesting, enriching and surprising experiences for end users.
If you are curious about this technology and want to use it in a project, at DEJ software we can advise you and/or build an AR application for you. Contact us to discuss your ideas.
AuthorJuan Carlos Valderrama GonzálezWeb/mobile development team Leader - DEJ Software