This column is authored by Harnil Oza, CEO of Hyperlink Infosystem
The Augmented Reality technology upgrades our real world by adding a digital layer of information to it. It makes use of a direct view of our existing environment and mixes it with sound, GPS data, graphics or video. Its use in human interactions is increasing every day.
When it comes to augmented reality app development, app developers work with augmented reality libraries with open-source API to make their app development process simpler.
AR is not a new trend, and these days several AR tools have similar functions. But, these AR features differ from each other in their individual specific features. Some of these AR tools work on specific platforms and can either be free or commercial or both. Below is a listing of some of the AR frameworks, along with their benefits and shortcomings.
1. Kudan AR
The functionality of Kudan AR consists of markerless tracking (where instead of relying on fiducial marks, it relies on natural features like corners, edges, and textures). Mapping extra elements through separate component over OpenGL and mapping extra elements on the base of the user recognized images and location. Its functionality also consists of image recognition. It supports the Android and iOS platforms.
This particular framework is faster than other frameworks, and it contends with Vuforia. Its library assists mobile AR apps when it comes to mapping out multi-polygonal models in reality and also to import three-dimensional models from of the software packages for modelling. And in addition to this, the number of recognized images has no specific limit, and it does not require much memory to store the files in the system.
App developers can make use of the original documentation. However, the manual for the framework is short and requires additional information. There is also a good chance that developers can suffer from the limited inbuilt functionality without a straightforward access to OpenGL.
This a complete software development for AR app development. The platforms Vuforia can support include Android, iOS, and Unity. It supports 2D and 3D recognition, virtual buttons, target tracking, mapping additional elements through OpenGL. It also supports extended tracking which is a capability that provides continual experience, even when the target leaves the view. Another feature of interest it has is Smart TerrainTM which can construct a terrain in real time, thereby creating a three-dimensional geometric map of the environment. It allows real objects to be scanned for recognition as well detection of several kinds of targets such as images, English text, objects.
When using Vuforia to detect images, it allows apps to make use of databases that are either on the local device or in the cloud. One of the main advantages of Vuforia framework is that it can support a virtual reality device and a test app with comments displaying the Vuforia abilities. Complications in augmented reality app development can arise from using a comprehensive framework without a manual. Despite not having a complete manual, there is an abundance of specific instructions and tips. These instructions are in random order and do not that capacity to replace the appropriate documentation.
This can be used for Android as well as iOS. It can be used as a module for Titanium, and as a plugin for PhoneGap. It can also be used as a component for Xamarin. It supports Unity programming language, and the software development kit includes SLAM (markerless tracking). The framework is available for Epson Moverio, Google Glass, ODG R-7, and Vuzix M-100. It supports scanning of real objects for recognition, 2D and 3D recognition, 3D model rendering, HTML augmentation, and location tracking.
App developers can use Wikitude to recreate places in the list or at the virtual map. They can use it do it a search of events, wiki articles, and tweets. They can also use it to get recommendations from other users. Wikitude-based apps allow users to receive coupons, play AR games, and also to receive information about recent specials.
There is a free trial version of Wikitude for developers. However, using the complete version comes with a price. There will be payments involved. And the documentation is detailed and well structured.
ARToolKit is a group of software tools that can be used to develop AR apps. ARToolKit supports different platforms like iOS, Android, SGI, Windows, Linux, Mac OS X. these operating systems have their different development environments. And development environments on these platforms are free. One of its major advantages is that it is an open-source code. This means that developers have free access to the library.
The library for ARToolKit allows tracking that is known in other advanced object markers via mobile device cameras and recreating their location on a device screen. At this point, the app developer can then create an AR UI sing the received data. Regardless of the fact that developers have free access to the library, the documentation is limited. It has test apps, but not every one can be built quickly.
With LayAR, you can watch the terrain via the layers that map on the mobile device screen. LayAR supports image recognition as well as mapping extra elements on the base of user recognized images and location.
Every framework layer can include the data about the location of specific areas or social network users. The functionality considerably allows expanding the abilities of a printed product. For instance, using a LayAR-based app, you can listen to a song that you heard of in a magazine or make an order in printed catalog. The major work takes place on a server using JSON, which includes the logic of mapping additional elements in recognition, and for this very reason, LayAR is not flexible.
The benefits of LayAR is that the LayAR documentation is well structured and very detailed even though the manual for the framework is available only online.
The described augmented reality libraries have an extensive range of opportunities for augmented reality app development. They support different platforms and possess different sets of tools for recognizing objects and tracking them. However, when it comes to choosing the right framework to work with, a developer needs to understand what he gets when a particular choice is made. Some of these tools are free, and all they have to do is to go online and download the software program. Some of the other programs aren’t free. They might have to sign a contract and pay for access to additional features with higher quality. When you are choosing one of the currently existing AR tools to use, take into consideration the requirements of your project task, what kinds of result you hope to achieve, and match it with the abilities of the AR libraries at your disposal.