Location-Based AR Apps: Features, Benefits, and Challenges

In many people’s minds, the Augmented Reality technology is associated with Pokémon Go. This is due to the whooping success of this revolutionary game in 2016. However, much water has flown under the bridge since that time. Nowadays, AR is a powerful tool that offers a pool of benefits in many spheres of business. In our guide, we are going to have a closer look at one of AR types known as location-based or markerless AR.

Location-Based Augmented Reality Overview

Unlike the marker-based AR technology, which relies on special markers showing where a particular virtual object must pop up, location-based AR needs no markers. Instead, it uses the phone’s accelerator, compass, and GPS sensors to define both its location and position. When indoors, special beacons are used instead of GPS.

AR-apps empowered with this technology work in the following way. The app sends continuous signals to the phone sensors and gets feedback. The information received is compared to the pre-programmed information about points of interest. Based on the results, the app decides whether to add virtual objects to the real world or not.

Spheres of Application of Location-Based AR

These days, augmented reality is successfully used in many business sectors – from sales and marketing to gaming. Here are some promising directions for its use.

  • Tourism and traveling. GPS-based augmented reality solutions can enhance the traveling experience greatly. For example, navigation applications with AR functionality will not just make the route but also show you the needed objects right on the street.
  • Education. Augmented reality is a great way to make the educational process live and captivating. Just imagine the classes of astronomy where you can see real space objects around you!
  • Healthcare. Location-based AR apps can turn useful in emergencies. For example, they help find and show the location of the nearest automated defibrillators and make routes to them.
  • Marketing and advertising. AR is a cheaper and more economical alternative for traditional advertisement channels, such as printed ads. Moreover, it works locally, which enhances its effectiveness. People see information about the offers and campaigns in the nearest stores when they just point their smartphone cameras to the street.
  • Gaming. Needless to say, adding virtual objects to the real world is fun. This idea is actively used by game developers.

Popular AR-Based Apps: a Brief Overview

There’s no need to mention Pokémon Go, which boasts over one million downloads. However, there are some other great AR apps to consider. Let’s review some popular options.

  • Yelp Monocle is one of the oldest AR apps ever. It improves navigation by providing precise and relevant information about various places of interest, restaurants, and so on in the city.

  • Walla Me is an entertainment app that adds some fun into everyday life. Make photos, add funny stickers or effects, and let the app link the photo to your location. After that, these photos (called Walls) will be available to other app users.
  • Ingress is another multiplayer online game made by the developers of Pokémon Go.
  • Wikitude World Browser for smartphones offers tons of useful information for tourists. Also, it is integrated with popular touristic services, such as Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, etc.

  • Vortex Planetarium is a real finding for the fans of astronomy. It identifies the user’s location and shows the space objects that can be seen from this point, with a detailed description.

  • IKEA Place is an AR app for indoor use. It lets place virtual furniture units into a real interior to see how they will look there.

How to Make a Location-Based AR App

Developing an app from scratch is always a unique multi-stage process. The type of product and its functionality influence app development cost and the whole process greatly. So, we’ll single out just three core stages of a location-based AR app creation.

 

  1. Decide on the type of virtual data to add to the real world. The simplest solution is adding text content if your goal is just to provide information. Developing AR games is more difficult, as you’ll have to create 3D objects.
  2. Select the right developer tools. When it comes to creating AR-based apps, there are three commonly used developer kits: Apple AR Kit, ARCore kit by Google, and Wikitude Kit, which works for both Apple and Android.

  1. Add geolocation data. The most common technology for outdoor apps is GPS, which is integrated into an app with the help of the location services of the OS.

The last but not the least is adding points of interest to the app. Their number and selection depend on the type of application.

Problems to Resolve When Making an AR-App

Location-based augmented reality is still a relatively new technology, so developers often face challenges in the course of their work. As of now, there are three major issues to overcome.

  • It’s important to keep virtual objects in place: they must not move with a camera. This can be reached with the help of the SLAM technology, which is continuously tracking the camera position and keeping the objects within a predefined visual scene.
  • Accuracy is vital. You need to make sure your app will send proper non-stop signals to the phone’s signals.
  • The distance between the phone’s camera and virtual objects must be calculated with high accuracy. Make sure you use reliable tools for this, and GPS is functioning correctly.

To sum it up, location-based AR apps tend to be really promising in many spheres. However, developing such apps is quite a challenge, as implementing the AR technology requires specific skills.

Author’s bio

Vitaly Kuprenko is a writer for Cleveroad. It’s a web and mobile app development company with headquarters in Ukraine. He enjoys writing about technology and digital marketing.

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