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How to create an Augmented Reality App The Right Way

AR is a technology, not a feature

Many customers come to us and ask about how they can integrate AR in their application. Sometimes they basically just want to put another button in their app that starts some sort of AR experience.

But you have probably heard about the saying “Don’t put the cart before the horse”, which means don’t use Augmented Reality for the sake of using Augmented Reality. That approach was possible a few years ago when the technology was something new, something no one knew about and you could wow people by just showing them a floating 3d model in a room.

Don’t just complicate your app, offer your users special suggestions. Use Augmented Reality to extend your applications to offer users possibilities they would not have otherwise.

Before you start developing read about the
AR basics

Using Augmented Reality sensibly

To successfully leverage the full potential of AR in your app, it has to accomplish a major problem of your target audience. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the best possible way to show the content of your app to the user?
  • How should the user interact with content and information?
  • Are you selling a complex product that is hard to grasp in a video or in pictures with descriptive text alone?
  • Should the application be operable by hand gestures or voice commands, since the user already has tools in his hand?
  • Should information be placed in a context-dependent context, i.e. digital information be linked to physical objects?

If there is a yes to these questions, you might opt for visualizations and interactions using augmented reality.

Low code development, native application or combine both

After you have thought about your target audience, the core features of your app and how AR can leverage them, you need to think about how to develop your app.

Basically there are two ways: either you create your own app called “native” or you make use of the help of a platform like Simplifier.  Designing a native app means integrating AR technology directly into your app. This is possible, but very time-consuming to develop. If you choose a native app, you can integrate any feature you like, but also have to make sure that the application still runs error-free on every device after system updates.

We recommend that you only consider native developments if you are planning to use high performance special applications with only one specific device. One of these specific applications could be, for example, the requirement for contactless operation using gesture control and automatic room recognition. Microsoft Hololens would be the right solution here.

How mobile applications are turning the business world upside down.
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However, the time-consuming task to integrate the native isolated solution into an already existing system infrastructure of further applications is a real challenge. Our approach for native applications is therefore the seamless connection between application and Simplifier. The native app can be easily connected to the existing connectors and business objects in Simplifier. This allows to develop integrated, native applications that combine the advantages of both worlds.

If your AR application can be implemented without special hardware restrictions, we recommend the use of standardized web technologies such as WebXR and WebGL. This also ensures a future-proof product lifecycle that is independent of the device or manufacturer. Our Simplifier platform uses web technologies as far as possible to map the AR functionalities.  However, not all AR techniques can be used with it yet, which is why we have additionally integrated the Wikitude SDK as a plugin into Simplifier, so that all subsequent AR tracking technologies are comprehensively available.

Bonus: Overview of 4 AR-Tracking Technologies

For image tracking you need a photo or marker which contains a code and can be compared to a QR Code. Scanning the code you can admire the visualisation of your content in 3D. This is the easiest way to create a tracking pattern for your app.

GPS/orientation tracking might be useful for example for companies, shops or tourist destinations. The user can display any location-related information, for example restaurants nearby.

The technology of object tracking allows using real objects as targets. You need to deposit the 3D data of your target. The app is able to scan not only planar images but also complex 3D objects independently of their size and geometry.

Using markerless tracking you scan the object and sensors within your device measure the object’s direction. Without lodging 3D data you can visualise your content due to the sensors that measure the direction of your tracker.

Augmented Reality meets Connected Worker – Simplifier and the Hololens in the field

In the »R2D – Road to Digital Production« project, a project funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bayern Digital initiative, Siemens AG and the other project partners, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS and its Fraunhofer Working Group for Supply Chain Services SCS, Simplifier AG and KINEXON GmbH, are driving forward the digitization of industrial production processes. read more

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