The augmented reality technology has come to stay and change the way we interact with the environment that surrounds us. Adding digitally generated objects to the real-life environment via smart devices can potentially transform every industry, from education and healthcare to entertainment and gaming.
If you are working on joining the hype, you should know your way around what you need to make it happen. This is why we have prepared an overview of the best tools for augmented reality development. Without further ado, enjoy!
5 Best Tools For AR Development You Need To Consider
If you have already been searching for the appropriate tool for your project, you may feel lost in the sea of various SDKs out there. The choice isn’t that easy, indeed, but we are here to help you make a wise decision.
- Universal Windows Platform, and
- Unity Editor.
Of course, we are going to start with perhaps the most popular SDK for AR app development. Even though you can use it for free, this option is good only for hobbyists, because it comes with limited functionality and watermarks. The main features that Vuforia offers developers include:
- Vuforia Object Scanner: recognizing 2D and 3D objects;
- Text recognition with in-built 100,000-word English vocabulary and the option to create your own custom one;
- VuMarks: barcodes that can contain data or act as markers;
- Video playback when a certain condition is met (for instance, when the target surface or image is detected);
- Virtual buttons that can turn any surface into a touchscreen;
- Smart glasses support;
- Storing data on the device or in the cloud.
Pricing: free + paid subscription plans (Classic – $499 per time, Cloud – $99 per month, Pro for commercial use, the pricing is individual)
- Windows for tablets.
The list of the top augmented reality SDKs wouldn’t be objective without Wikitude. This SDK is constantly improved upon and updated – the latest Wikitude SDK 8 was released in July 2018. If you use Wikitude to develop your application, you can:
- import and render 3D objects with SLAM technology;
- build apps for smart glasses;
- store data in the cloud or on the device;
- employ location-based services;
- employ object, scene, and image recognition features;
- use Wikitude Studio to add, manage and manipulate virtual objects without any coding necessary.
Pricing: free trial with watermarks + paid subscription plans (starting from €1,990 per one app)
- iOS 11 or newer.
This toolkit for augmented reality development was created and launched specifically for creating mobile software for the iOS platform by Apple. This means you can create apps only for iPhones and iPads with this SDK, so it may be your best augmented reality SDK if you aim to make an AR exclusively for these devices. Let’s take a look at its main features:
- 2D image detection and tracking;
- space and 3D objects recognition;
- sharing the AR experience with other users which allows creating multiplayer AR games;
- horizontal planes detection;
- lighting estimation for making virtual objects look more realistic;
- facial tracking.
- Android 7.0+, and
- iOS 11+
Basically, ARCore is Google’s response to Apple’s ARKit. Unlike Apple, Google doesn’t mind supporting developing AR apps for both Android and iOS. Using this SDK allows:
- tracking the phone’s motion and its position relative to the surrounding objects;
- estimating the lighting to adjust it on the virtual objects;
- understanding the environment by detecting the surfaces, their size and location;
- placing texts or virtual objects in a certain spot and sharing them with other app users;
- working with Java/OpenGL, Unreal and Unity;
- creating 3D objects with Tilt Brush and Blocks VR building tools.
- Windows, and
- Mac OS.
This is the last but definitely not the least SDK on our list of the best tools for AR development. Actually, MaxST comes in two different SDKs: one is the 2D toolkit used for tracking images, and the other one is the 3D toolkit created for scanning and recognizing the surrounding environment. The latter one is more interesting for us in terms of the topic, so let’s take a look at its key features:
- tracking the surroundings and mapping the environment;
- scanning QR codes and barcodes;
- tracking multiple targets at the same time (up to 3 items)
- physics engine effect to create more realistic experiences;
- occlusion effect – screening the virtual object by a real one fully or partially;
- integration with Unity (although MaxST works only with the 32-bit Unity Editor version).
Pricing: free (with watermarks) + paid subscription
Are you confused which SDK to choose? Fear not – we have prepared a comparison chart with all the main things you may need to know about the best tools for AR development to make your choice. Take a look:
If you are still uncertain how to choose the ARtoolkit that would be the perfect fit for developing your app, we suggest you turning to professionals for advice. Do you have the idea that will blow people’s minds? Reach out to us to make the first step towards your success.