How to Develop an Augmented Reality App

Written by Kevin Liew on 03 Apr 2018
9,990 Views • Web Development

Are you looking to develop an augmented reality app? Here are some quick tips to help you make an app that will impress your audience and have an efficient development team behind it.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) is when technology is applied to place digitally rendered images in real-world environments to create an illusion or make sense of virtual reality. For instance, sounds and images are superimposed over what you'll see and here.

Unlike Virtual Reality where there are computer generated environments that are created to interact with human beings. AR places digital sound and imagery into the real world. Augmented reality is always presented in some form of futuristic technology, despite it being around for decades.

For instance, many fighter jets use augmented reality principles, and this dates back from the early 1990s when the heads-up display would show information about the speed, direction, and altitude of the aircraft.

Steps to Build Your App

Follow these steps in order to make your AR app more appealing to your target audience:

Choose an SDK

Usually, SDKs for advanced, AR-based project solutions are paid. This means that their fees are included in the project's total price. In fact, they help simplify the code writing process (which is useful when making complex apps that involve a smartphone's total capital funds -- cameras, GPS, gyroscopes and more). Here are some of the most popular SDKs you can use.

  • D’Fusion: This SDK has a free and paid version. It's characterized by its advanced functionality: with D'fusion, developers can make applications that recognize small details and motion on objects (for instance, facial traits). Another distinctive feature it has is its multiple identifications of several markers (in fact there are 500 preset versions in this SDK).
  • ARToolKit: It has an advanced set of tools that you can use to created AR-based software, which is quite difficult for first-time learners. It also can be integrated with OpenGL, which is used to make 2D and 3D models, and supports the GLUT library.
  • ARmedia: Like D’Fusion, ARmedia has both free and paid versions available. It gives developers tools that help them create applications such as Pokemon Go (this uses an additional Google SketchUp). Armedia focuses on making commercial apps and GPS-oriented software; with its help, this program makes it easier to deploy these apps and utilize them towards a public audience.

Estimate the Project Cost

Cost is the most important factor for any entrepreneur. You need to check out what licenses each AR software development kit offers. They provide both commercial and free licenses. However, the free functionality is limited, so you'll might have to pay extra if you plan on building a larger app.

Create an estimate for the amount you're trying to spend on this AR project. Remember, you should pay for high-quality developers to ensure that there are no bugs and issues associated with your app.

Location Based vs Marker Based

Location-based apps use GPS and position detectors (digital compasses and accelerometers) to create augmented reality objects and establish your location. Also, these applications can show you the location of your car even if its parked in a large parking lot.

Marker-based AR applications use image recognition to help interact with the user. They use an additional camera to detect markers or patterns, like images or QR Code. Once it recognizes the pattern, it overlays the digital information through the marker. The position of the AR object depends on the marker's position. So make sure you pick either marker, location or a mixture of both when making your first app.


Since we've explained which AR software development kits can be used for your next app, it shouldn't be that difficult for you to select the correct tool. Determine what functionality you need for your AR mobile application, consider the pricing, the available SDKs, and the number of members needed to help develop the app, and you'll increase the chances of making your app launch successful.

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