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5 Augmented Reality apps not to miss

Bring your ideas to life with Augmented Reality, and check out our pick of 5 AR apps sure to get your imagination firing…

Introduction

I still find it incredible that at our fingertips, in our hands, we have access to more than a million times the processing power that was found in the onboard computer of the Apollo 11. When I think about it I wonder if I should have achieved more with my mobile phone considering the Apollo computer got humans to the moon and back! With all this processing power so readily accessible it means that the opportunities we have are greater and one of those is in the area of Augmented Reality (AR). It is now possible for every owner of a mobile phone to make use of AR and the possibilities are endless.

One of the earliest and arguably the most successful adopters of AR was IKEA. Using their dedicated app, now called IKEA Place, you can virtually ‘place’ IKEA products into your space. I think IKEA gave people a viable and usable way of using AR that was immensely practical and would enhance how a customer interacts with a brand. For IKEA this is further enhanced by the fact that customers can make sure a piece of furniture is going to not just fit in a space but will work in the room.

Let’s take a look at some apps that will help us follow in the footsteps of giants like IKEA.

Zapworks

Zapworks is a company which provide a variety of different AR tools that enable creators to create and publish their content. They have Zapworks Studio which gives creators the most extensive set of tools on offer. If you’re looking for a simpler drag and drop type of interface but with limited tools then you can opt for Zapworks Designer. You can use Zapworks for most things you would want to achieve such as marketing campaigns and product visualizations. They also offer paid for training to help customers use their products. I would have preferred to have seen all the training provided for free online because I think that would help users take the initial leap. That being said the training offered is targeted for each customer so will help answer specific needs and questions.

zapworks rendering 3d technical roar augmented reality android app

Use their ecosystem of products to create your AR.
Image credit supplied by Zapworks

Roar

If you’re looking for a super simple, no technical skills required, solution for deploying your AR dreams then you should give Roar a look. In just a few steps creators can set up AR image markers and object scanning before using Roar to dictate what users will experience once they scan the image or object. And you can apply any content you want including 3D models, images, videos, buttons, and text. It works on all platforms including Android, iOS, and on the web. If you’re the content creator then this means your clients can make use of the AR technology no matter what piece of kit their using. Roar is also great for providing users with analytics which demonstrate how people are engaging with it. This is good for continued development and to ensure your AR experiences are achieving what you set it for them.

roar vr ar augmented reality app real-life photography 3d

No technical expertise required to make use of Roar.
Image credit supplied by Roar

SketchAR

I think this AR app is great! The reason I think that is because it is doing everything it can to help artists push beyond the feelings of fear and insecurity towards creating art. My favorite feature is ‘AR for drawing’ which enables any sketch to be projected onto a flat surface. So, if you like the idea of displaying your work in the real world or you want to graffiti your designs onto a wall then you can do that easily with this technology. Anatoly Akue, graffiti artist and abstract painter said this about the app: "It’s interesting for me to play around with materials and approaches, dealing a lot with shape and color — that does pave the way for creating new artworks. In SketchAR, I love the image transfer feature that helps many people take the first step in their art and try to draw what they might find difficult. The app provides the basics."

vr ar augmented reality app sketchar rendering modeling 3d

Image credit supplied by Roar

Thyng

If you’ve got a 3D object that you want people to experience in the real world then why not try Thyng. It also lets you overlay videos and images on top of a marker which is particularly handy for marketing campaigns. This is also great for content creators who create for events and shows. ‘MyThyngs’ enables you to create AR content using 3D models, videos, and photos whereas ‘MyTargets’ is more focused on videos and photos alone. You can choose whichever suits you most. It’s a shame that you can only display up to a 10-second video which makes it a little limiting but if that’s long enough for your purposes then that won’t be a limitation for you. One of their USPs is how they’ve integrated social media into the delivery of the AR experience.

vr ar augmented reality app thyng mobile phone photography

Bring your marketing campaigns to life with Thyng.
Image credit supplied by Thyng

Vuforia

And now for the bees knees. The Vuforia suite of tools are only for advanced users and you need to have a good knowledge of programming before you can make use of what they offer. So, if you’ve got the programming skills and you want to push the boundaries of what is possible then it’s worth taking a look. The previously discussed apps are perfect for simple drag and drop solutions but if you want something super customizable then Vuforia can help. They offer a variety of tools but for most 3D content creators you’ll want to make use of their Vuforia Engine. Through it you can “build engaging 3D product demonstrations, interactive brand campaigns, or create applications for customers to view and personalize products in their own homes.” Over 800,000 developers have made use of Vuforia Engine so it’s a well-established and trusted piece of software.

vr ar augmented reality app vuforia engine rendering modeling

A great solution for more advanced users who want to create something more bespoke.
Image credit supplied by Vuforia

Closing comments

We’ve taken a look at 5 AR apps that will help you make initial steps into the AR market. We’ve focused largely on simple drag and drop solutions that are relatively straight forward to implement but we’ve also taken a look at Vuforia for a more advanced solution that would let you create something like the IKEA Place app or something similar. As a community we’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible with AR so let’s get thinking, dreaming and creating – the sky’s the limit.

vr ar augmented reality app sofa furniture modeling render

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