In 2021, the mobile AR market was estimated at approximately US$ 12,45 billion. The market size is estimated to reach US$ 36 billion in 2026. Mobile AR offers a huge opportunity, as smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices are all included.
This article provides an overview of the commercial possibilities of augmented-reality mobile apps, as well as how to create them. This article is especially relevant to business owners and company decision-makers who are considering AR for mobile channels.
Augmented Reality in mobile app development
The technology of augmented reality integrates virtual content into the real world. The camera of the device allows users to experience a mobile world where virtual objects are displayed alongside their real-world surroundings. Augmented reality is a mobile technology that overlays digital elements on top of the actual environment.
AR and virtual reality are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are two different technologies. VR is computer-generated content, which users can experience via a headset but without any visuals of the real world.
Learn how mobile applications typically use augmented reality to enhance the user experience. Below are some of the most common mobile AR types. You can use these to help you visualize how you would like to provide a unique mobile service to your clients.
Marker-based AR mobile apps detect real-world objects and superimpose virtual objects over them. The smartphone uses the visual input of the camera to determine how virtual content is placed.
The virtual object disappears when the camera loses sight of the marker. When the user moves their phone, the virtual object disappears. Face filters are a popular application of marker-based AR. Apps use facial markers such as the user’s nose, eyes, mouth, and other facial features to determine where to place the facial filters.
Location-based AR applications do not require markers. They use GPS and other inputs for positioning virtual objects. The camera scans physical environments and displays objects based on their programmed location. Pokemon Go is a prominent example of an app that uses location-based augmented realities.
There are alternative ways to position virtual items without using markers. Markerless augmented realities use multiple sensors in order to determine the location and orientation of mobile devices. These sensors come in many different types.
- Accelerometer: The accelerometer measures the acceleration of the mobile device.
- Gyroscope: Measures the angular velocity around all axes of 3D space.
- Magnetometer: Measures the magnetic field on all axes.
The technology stack and expertise of your development team will be affected by the type of augmented reality you intend to use in your product. You may also need to combine marker-based features with markerless features for more advanced AR applications.
Also read: Online Pharmacy App Development: Key Features, Important and Benefits
How to create augmented reality mobile applications
The process of creating an AR app is similar to developing any other mobile application: you must specify your business goals, define your user personas and research your market, competitors, and key features.
It seems that aligning your augmented-reality offering with the business goals of your app is key to determining what you’d like to achieve. The AR feature you create can be cool, interactive, and fun. But it is another thing entirely to have it produce tangible business results.
The specific functionality of the AR feature is what you should focus on. Consult your technology team, whether it’s an internal team or a consultant. If your product vision would be best served by marker-based AR or location-based augmented reality, other types of markerless augmented reality, or a mixture of the above.
Their job is to provide you with the best technology solutions, but yours is to make sure that they are aligned with your commercial and strategic goals., For example, AR should be used to support a particular phase in your marketing funnel or sales process.
Maximizing hardware-dependent capabilities
After you have determined the features of your AR mobile application, the next step is to select the tools that will be included in your technology stack. You should consider how your AR app can maximize the hardware capabilities on your users’ tablets or smartphones.
When developing AR mobile apps on Android or iOS, it is important to make the most of the camera features. As well as GPS, movement detection, and Bluetooth (and perhaps even the microphone), are all hardware capabilities that are commonly required to make augmented realities possible.
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile is a great choice for building native or cross-platform apps. This is a Software Development Kit (SDK) that simplifies the app development process by allowing developers to write the same logic for iOS and Android.
AR specific technology stack
Like any other mobile application, augmented-reality applications need a backend, frontend, database, cloud services, and testing tools to ensure quality. These are probably things you already know.
AR apps must have a robust backend programming architecture that allows them to identify real-world settings and place virtual objects on top of them. AR-specific tools are required to power this. Most (but not all of them) are not open-source or free.
When choosing your AR tech stack you should focus on the augmented reality SDK, which is responsible for integrating virtual content into the real world.
You should again rely on the technology team for advice on the best SDK to use, but these are the most common ones.
- Google ARCore: This toolkit was developed by Google for Android Devices. It works with Java/OpenGL and Unreal. It allows for environmental understanding (e.g. It can detect horizontal surfaces and place virtual objects on the shelves or on the floor. It also has motion tracking and light estimation capabilities (so that objects look natural in a space).
- Vuforia: This SDK is one of the leading augmented reality SDKs on the market. It supports a variety of functions including text recognition, 2D/3D object recognition and construction of 3D geometric maps, conversion of static photos into motion movies, cloud storage, and device storage. It offers its own barcode technology called VuMarks.
- Apple ARKit: The SDK is only available for iOS devices. This includes the iPhone and iPad. Apple ARKit uses a technology known as Visual Inertial Optometry to track and detect the movement of the device within a space. Developers will need to use ARKit in conjunction with a number of Apple tools, including RealityKit and RoomPlan.
You’ll also hear about other SDKs from your tech team, including ARToolKit (also known as EasyAR), Wikitude and MAXST, Kudan, Wikitude, and EasyAR.
When selecting the SDK that’s right for your project, there are many factors to consider, including cost, OS compatibility (Android or iOS), and accessory compatibility (e.g. smart glasses). Smart glasses, cloud recognition (not all SDKs support this), 3D tracking (not every SDK allows this), Unity compatibility (compatibility for this popular gaming engine), and others.
Benefits of using AR in mobile apps
Many dismiss augmented reality (AR) as a gimmick or a trend. As I will demonstrate, the benefits to businesses are not only tangible but also quantifiable. Even though it is still a new technology, augmented reality has proven to be a powerful tool for delivering business results.
AR can be engaging and fun for customers. a NielsenIQ survey found that 56% of consumers said AR gave them greater confidence in a product’s quality, and that 61% would buy from retailers who offer an augmented-reality experience. In a second study, people who used the AR function spent more time using the mobile app. They also viewed more products.
This increased engagement of users can also translate into higher sales. In a study conducted over a period of 19 months, which examined the behavior of 160,000 users for 800,000 sessions on mobile apps, those who used augmented reality were 19.8% likely to make a sale compared to those who did not, showing that AR could help businesses increase revenue.
Many businesses from different industries have already integrated augmented reality into their digital platforms. AR is used by healthcare providers to improve the patient’s experience during treatment.
Online marketplaces, real estate developers, interior decorators, and brokers use augmented reality in order to enhance the experience of home renovation and buying. In gaming, characters and avatars from the online world are placed in a real-world environment.
Also read: Top 10 eCommerce Chatbots for Your Business
Potential of augmented reality in eCommerce apps
Virtual try-on is a great way to make online shopping more engaging and fun. It also makes it more efficient. Customers can try out the latest fashions or outfits that they might not have considered before. Virtual try-on allows shoppers to change between products more easily.
VTO, when used strategically in an online store’s funnel sales, can increase sales by moving the customer more efficiently from an initial interest to a purchase.
This AR retail use-case can boost store revenues due to:
- Greater personalization
- Enhance user engagement
- Location independence
- Brand differentiation
Virtual try-on also reduces costs due to fewer returns of items and better inventory management. A number of fashion retailers are already taking advantage of the benefits of augmented reality.
You can read Netguru’s report Virtual Try-on: Game Changer or Hype for a detailed look at the pros and cons of these apps. The insights are supported by UX audits and user interviews.
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile is a cross-platform technology that was used to enhance both native and cross-platform development capabilities. We also wanted to experiment with KMM and see how it would work.
Online shopping for furniture or clothes is a visual experience. Retailers should maximize camera features in their mobile apps.
Developers know, however, that camera features can complicate cross-platform development. Kotlin Multiplatform makes it easier to write the same business logic on both iOS and Android while also maximizing hardware features that are heavily used in augmented reality mobile apps.
Develop a mobile application that your customers love to use
Market figures, trends, and consumer interest seem to indicate that the augmented reality experience will become an integral part of digital life, be it in our professional or private lives. The opportunities for business are therefore still in their infancy and will continue to grow.
Remember that if the idea of augmented reality is intimidating, the technology must be aligned with your business goals. AR features must be tailored to your business objectives, whether it is to attract new customers, convert them into buyers, keep their attention for longer, or enhance their brand experience.
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile is a toolkit that can be used with any AR toolkit. It allows apps to take full advantage of the device’s hardware, including its camera, location, and movement detection.