Applications based on Augmented Reality (AR) are the new rage in the industry as an increasing number of organizations are leveraging the technology.
Nowadays, augmented reality has come beyond just gaming and entertainment. Whether it is marketing, education, or business, everyone is utilizing augmented reality to develop mobile applications, services, and products.
The global market of augmented reality is expected to reach a whopping market share of $18 billion by the end of 2023, and it will get higher as AR evolves with time.
The boom of AR has compelled developers to seek the best-augmented reality SDKs that will help them in their next AR-powered project and achieve better outcomes.
Let’s discuss what augmented reality is and then some of the best-augmented reality SDKs to build creative applications.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) can be defined as a computer-produced vision of the real world that is generated using specific technologies, digital visual elements, and sensors. In other words, it is the process of integrating a digital environment or computer-generated environment with the real-time environment of the user.
AR falls in the same category as virtual reality (VR), but it differs from VR as it utilizes the user’s real-time environment to put new perceptual information and overlay elements on them.
In a typical scenario, AR applications visually modify the existing environment and create an interactive medium that helps in enhancing user experience. AR utilizes modern technology to introduce 3D components into your perception of the real world.
Modern AR utilizes smartphones, smart glasses, or special AR-compatible displays to deliver a realistic-looking virtual environment containing visual elements along with other sensory info. The use of AR is increasing day by day, and it is now being utilized for entertainment, decision-making, and creating product descriptions.
Role of AR SDK Platforms in AR App Development
AR SDK is a developer’s kit that comprises numerous libraries and frameworks. These libraries and frameworks are reusable pieces of code that developers use to add digital content on top of the physical environment in real-time.
An AR SDK platform is where developers find the base and needed tools to craft AR apps. It’s often known as an AR engine because it powers an AR application and streamlines the workflow while optimizing parallel processes. An AR SDK features recognition, rendering, and motion tracking to make it easier for developers to easily work on their applications.
Recognition: It serves as the central part of the app as it provides the tool for the AR app to recognize the environment, especially human facial expressions.
Rendering: Rendering components of AR SDK indicate the 3D objects and digital information that are needed to be overlaid over the real-world environment on the user’s end.
Tracking: Tracking components serve as the eye of the application. It helps developers track 3D objects and 2D images, which include moving objects or water bodies.
AR SDKs also come with location services where it enables the AR app to access GPS or any location-based services. This way, these can track the user’s movement more accurately. AR SDKs are instrumental for app development because it helps in enhancing awareness and user experience.
Many modern SDKs are equipped with pose estimation technology for detecting human poses. It is helpful in applications utilizing gesture features for detecting the contour lines of the body in the form of visual data.
Moreover, AR SDK platforms provide surface mapping capabilities, which assist the app in accurately mapping out the physical surface of the real environment.
Benefits of Choosing the Right AR SDK Platform
The right AR SDK platform offers plenty of benefits to users, such as:
A good AR SDK platform can help you achieve the scalability needed to develop complex AR apps. It will make it easier for you to create an app that can grow and adapt according to business needs. It is useful for large-scale apps that will carry a lot of AR features and can handle large numbers of user requests.
When you choose the correct AR SDK for app development, you can easily make adjustments and perform effective maintenance. It also helps the developer patch any bug that might arise during development or after deployment.
Better User Experience
Working with the right AR SDKs helps developers create a high-quality AR app that provides a better user experience. It will give you access to image recognition, 3D recognition and tracking, cloud support, and openSceneGraph support, which will help you effectively build the app.
Moreover, some top tools even come with SLAM and GPS support, which is highly useful for creating some high-end AR apps.
Efficient Development Process
With a suitable AR SDK, you can develop the AR app much more efficiently. You will have the support of all the necessary components, so you won’t have a problem implementing your idea of the app.
You will find it easier to onboard new developers in the project and make them understand the process.
AR SDK platforms come with various pricing tiers based on the features and capabilities included. The good thing is that there are some SDK platforms that are entirely free to use.
So, if you are a startup owner or beginner in AR app development, you might want to look for free AR SDK tools.
Now, let’s look at some of the best AR SDKs to create an efficient AR-based application.
The ARDK comes with a real-time mapping feature that gives you session persistent meshing and real-time depth estimation and occlusion during development. The cross-platform functionality is one of the reasons that many developers utilize this tool because they can work on Android and iOS mobile platforms.
Lightship ARDK provides you with semantic segmentation so that your AR app can instantly identify elements around the users and mask them. This informs how your virtual content reacts in the space. Its categories include water, ground, sky, foliage, and buildings.
This unique platform lets you build an AR game that can support both single users and multi-user social sessions. For security, it offers session encryption and authentication.
Most features are free on this platform. But certain features like Lightship VPS and shared AR service are paid. It starts from $5 for more than 50K MAU per app.
ARCore by Google can help you build a fantastic app with an impressive set of features. It offers three key features – motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation. These will help you easily integrate the virtual content of your application with the real world.
The smartphone’s camera serves as the leading hardware for this tool for tracking the position and detecting the environment. ARCore’s motion tracking technology tracks all the items around you and understands how those items move over time.
From tables, floors, and home furnishing items to lights around, it detects everything to build its own understanding. Besides, this AR SDK also provides all the native APIs that are important for building a quality AR application.
However, it runs only on Android smartphones having version 7.0 OS or later.
Like Google, Apple has also developed a proprietary AR SDK, RealityKit, for developers building AR apps on iOS. This tool is loaded with features like photo-realistic rendering, animations, camera effects, etc., for creating advanced AR applications.
RealityKit features one-of-a-kind custom shaders that seamlessly blend virtual content with the real-world using environmental reflection, camera noise, motion blur, and many more. With native Swift APIs, ARKit integration, rigid body physics, and spatial audio, you can take your AR app development journey to a whole new level.
This tool utilizes Metal features to harness the power of CPU caches and multiple cores to obtain greater scalability and performance. You can bring innovative AR features to your app using the Object Capture API that uses photogrammetry to turn a series of photos into a 3D realistic model.
If you want to create an immersive experience and 3D environment through your AR app, try Unity Reflect. The Unity Reflect suite provides a real-time platform where you can connect with stakeholders at all phases of the AEC lifecycle to facilitate a collaborative environment.
The platform gives you access to Unity Reflect Develop, which offers an AR SDK to help you create applications by loading large models and leveraging scalability to build solutions. This AR SDK platform provides you with APIs, samples, and baseline projects to easily create custom applications and accelerate the development process.
Once developed, you can easily deploy applications on various devices and platforms like VR, Android, iOS, PC, etc.
Opt for their yearly Unity Plus plan, costing $399 per seat, or the Unity Pro, costing $2040 per year.
Trusted by thousands of developers and renowned organizations, Wikitude is a top-of-the-line AR SDK that provides a cutting-edge cross-platform for AR app development. It runs on both Android and iOS platforms.
Wikitude can enhance objects and spaces with 2D and 3D contents, which intensifies the experience of AR models. Its native API enables you to embed the AR SDK into the Android or iOS app, making app development easier.
Besides, you have the choice to develop the app in the Unity platform, which opens up more features for you. The native API also gives you access to ARCore and ARKit, which is highly useful when you are developing AR-based features for your applications.
The subscription plan starts from $529 per year for Standard and goes up to Enterprise, which has custom pricing.
MAXST offers many AR functions through its independently developed AR source technology. It comes with a user-friendly and convenient user interface where you can design AR apps according to your specific requirements.
Since its introduction in the industry, it has already helped developers create more than 8500 AR applications, and the count is increasing. This SDK tool gives you access to Maxscan, a spatial map creator tool that lets you create 3D spatial maps, AR content, and the option to experience your sample AR content.
Furthermore, you can leverage its marker tracker and visual slam to enhance the AR app experience. Through the feature Space Tracker, this AR SDK can recognize not only planar surfaces and images but also 3D spaces. Your app can even expand its support to AR glasses like Epson, Nreal, RealWear, and more.
You can buy the SDK once for $899 or the $59 monthly subscription.
EasyAR Sense 4.x
EasyAR Sense 4.x is a widely popular AR SDK tool that helps you go beyond simple AR apps and create a whole new AR experience. It comes with features like Sparse SpatialMap that help the app scan the environment in real-time and create a sparse 3D points cloud.
In addition, it also offers a dense SpatialMap through which you scan the environment for generating the 3D mesh, and that too without requiring 3D sensors. One of the unique features that make it standard apart is the recording feature, through which you can record content at multiple resolutions.
Motion and surface tracking are vital aspects of AR apps as they track the device’s position relative to the surrounding and environmental surface to create a realistic output.
If you are a standalone developer, then you can go for its Personal Edition, which is free. Else you can choose the Professional plan ($39/monthly) or Classic Edition ($1399-one time).
If you are looking for a top-class AR development environment containing numerous computer vision libraries, you can consider ZapWorks. It is an award-winning AR SDK that encourages developers of all levels to build their dream AR apps using their preferred development environment and language.
Moreover, ZapWorks offers world tracking, where it understands the user’s surroundings through the camera and allows the app to place digital content to create an immersive experience. It also superimposes 3D-tracked models on the user’s face accurately.
Another feature it provides is image tracking, where you can upload any poster or image to ZapWorks and bring them to life through your phone camera.
This AR SDK’s pricing starts from i$68/month.
AR.js has become a favorite tool for many developers as it offers a lightweight library for AR on the web and allows you to create AR-based apps with ease. It serves as a great collaborative and accessible platform where you can showcase your creativity and create a wonderful AR experience through your application.
This AR SDK is equipped with valuable features like image tracking, location-based AR, and market tracking. It also enables the developers to show content on top of 2D images or 3D models using image tracking.
It is an open-source AR SDK tool that you can use for free. Using the webgl and webrtc, you can deploy the application on any smartphone without compromising AR capabilities.
Since Augmented Reality (AR) is expanding into various industries, the usage of AR SDK tools is also increasing. They promise speed, efficiency, productivity, collaboration, and creativity to bring your idea to life.
When you have the support of the best-augmented reality SDK, building your dream AR app becomes an easy affair. The above-mentioned AR SDKs are famous and widely used by developers across the world due to their capabilities and offerings. Thus, choose the best AR SDK platform based on your project’s requirements and budget.
Durga Prasad Acharya is a Freelance Technical Writer who loves writing on emerging technologies, such as AI & ML, Cybersecurity, Web Hosting, SaaS, Cloud Computing, and more. Besides writing, he’s a web designer and is passionate about… read more
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