The Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Right Enterprise AR Solution

Businesses now clearly see that “Augmented Reality” (AR) is much more than games! There are several key use cases for AR in business, and you as a business leader in your enterprise are likely exploring them already. How can you deliver business value to your customers, using the relevant AR use cases? Enterprise AR solutions are important here, and I offer you the ultimate guide for choosing the right enterprise AR solution. Read on!

Contents

A brief overview of AR
What makes AR so powerful?
AR: A technology that doesn’t cost too much!
The notable enterprise augmented reality use cases
The market for augmented reality
The importance of an augmented reality enterprise strategy
What should the best enterprise AR solutions offer?
A review of prominent enterprise AR solutions
Planning an enterprise augmented reality project?

A brief overview of AR

AR is a modern technology, which helps in integrating digital information with the actual environment of users. This technology achieves this integration in real time.

The following quick facts about AR are relevant here:

  • Thomas Caudell, a researcher with Boeing came up with the term “Augmented Reality” in 1990.
  • A very popular example of AR is the heads-up display in automobile windshield.
  • AR developers write AR apps using special 3D programs, and they integrate contextual digital information in software with an AR “marker” in the real world. You can read “Marker – Augmented Reality” to learn more about AR markers.
  • AR markers are visual cues, and these trigger the display of the above-mentioned digital information. Markers can be images or small objects. Developers “train” the app to recognize them in the camera stream, therefore, the camera sends information about the marker to the app.
  • This information stream includes the position, scale, and rotation of the marker.
  • The AR app then processes the information feed from the marker, and it places the appropriate images in a layer on top of the image of the actual environment.

You can learn more about AR in “augmented reality (AR)”.

What makes AR so powerful?

The wide range of images or other contextual information that AR apps can process makes AR quite powerful. An AR app could potentially work in one or more of the following ways:

  • Framemarkers: The app will recognize rectangles in pictures.
  • Image/NFT: In this case, the app will use a “Natural Feature Tracking” (NFT) marker. These are images, without the need for a black border.
  • GPS markers: Users GPS location is the marker in this case.
  • Object markers: The app can use small objects as 3D-markers.
  • Marker-less tracking: This is a more advanced form of AR, where the application recognizes things without being “trained” with that before.

There are other ways in which an AR app could work, e.g., processing multimarkers, RFID tags, etc. You can read about it in this Stack Overflow Q&A thread. As you can see, AR is a versatile technology!

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AR: A technology that doesn’t cost too much!

AR is quite powerful, however, it doesn’t cost too much! The budget requirements for developing AR apps are reasonable, and the typical development schedule doesn’t stretch too long. You can read more about these advantages in “Buzzword decoder: Embedded AR markers and markerless AR”.

There are several reasons behind the reasonable cost of AR, e.g.:

  • Developers most often create AR apps for mobile phones, and there are cost-effective ways to develop mobile apps.
  • They might build native mobile apps use ARCore framework for Android or ARKit framework for iOS.
  • Programmers can use Android and iOS “Software Development Kits” (SDKs) such as the ones offered by Vuforia.
  • AR developers can also use Unity, a popular game engine and develop cross-platform AR apps.

You can read this Quora Q&A thread to understand these reasons in-depth.

The notable enterprise augmented reality use cases

There are important enterprise augmented reality use cases, e.g.:

  • Medical training: Medical students can get significant benefits from augmented reality in business. Learning to operate complicated medical equipment, or learning complex surgeries become easier with it.
  • Repair and maintenance of complex equipment: Maintenance personnel is nowadays using AR headsets and glasses to perform their job, and they get highly useful information. AR headsets and glasses also suggest potential fixes.
  • Interior design and architecture: AR is helping interior design professionals and architects to visualize their designs, moreover, they can make virtual changes. I have explained this use case earlier in “How to build a home design app like Design This Home”.
  • Tourism: Travel and tourism businesses can use AR and offer their customers an immersive experience of their destinations before they travel.
  • Entertainment: We all know about the famous AR game Pokémon Go. Entertainment brands can use AR to give an immersive experience to their viewers, which increases user engagement.

You can read about more AR use cases in “10 real use cases for augmented reality”.

The market for augmented reality

As more and more businesses discover the value AR offers, the market for the technology is growing. The following statistics illustrate this:

  • From $3.5 billion, the global market for AR will likely reach a whopping $198 billion in 2021, according to a Statista report.
  • Industry observers estimate that there will be 1 billion AR users by 2020, moreover, AR revenues will surpass “Virtual Reality” (VR) revenues by then.
  • 70% of consumers think that AR is beneficial, and the market is responding to this sentiment. AngelList, the leading platform for American start-ups lists 1,684 AR start-ups and 2,113 investors.
  • Media planners are bullish about AR, and 67% of them want AR in their digital advertisement campaigns.

Read more about these statistics in “20 augmented reality stats to keep you sharp in 2019”.

The importance of an augmented reality enterprise strategy

AR is still a relatively new technology, and it’s evolving rapidly. You need a sound augmented reality enterprise strategy to successfully utilize it in your business. Such a strategy will help you to unlock valuable digital information, superimpose them on physical objects and environments, and derive business value. Read more about the importance of an AR strategy in “Why every organization needs an augmented reality strategy”.

How do you formulate such a strategy? This involves the following:

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  • You need to ask the following questions:
    • Is there a genuine AR use case for the industry in question?
    • Will AR help your business to create differentiators?
    • Will you build AR capabilities in-house, or, will you engage an AR development partner?
  • Define what AR capabilities you need, either in-house or from a partner.
  • Determine what digital content you need.
  • Understand the physical environment in which the app user will interact with the app, and plan for it.
  • Plan how you will deliver the AR experience. You can deliver it via an AR app with the complete content, however, if the physical environment changes, then you will need to modify the app.
  • Alternatively, you can host the AR experience on the cloud, which an AR app can download. This is called the “Content Publishing Model”.

You can read “A manager’s guide to augmented reality” for a deeper understanding of how to build an augmented reality enterprise strategy.

What should the best enterprise AR solutions offer?

The best enterprise AR solutions should offer the following features/advantages:

  • They should offer SDKs to ease the development of AR apps.
  • The SDK should effectively perform the core task of integrating digital content with the real-world environment.
  • A great AR SDK carries out important tasks like content rendering, AR tracking, scene recognition, etc.
  • Such SDKs should come with its own properties that allow AR developers to recognize, render, and track the application optimally.

Read more about these features in “12 best augmented reality SDKs”.

A review of prominent enterprise AR solutions

Let’s review a few key enterprise AR solutions, which are as follows:

1. ARKit

ARKit is from Apple, and it’s a powerful framework for developing AR apps. The following quick facts are notable with respect to ARKit:

  • The framework is for compatible Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad.
  • ARKit offers “Reality Composer”, which is a powerful tool to create AR experiences.
  • RealityKit is the powerful high-level AR framework from ARKit, and together with Reality Composer, it makes AR app development easier.
  • ARKit offers “Simultaneous Localization and Mapping” (SLAM), which is useful for constructing a map for an unknown environment. SLAM is important for the long-term growth of AR.
  • The other key capabilities of ARKit are ambient lighting estimation, scale estimation, vertical plain estimation, horizontal plane estimation, and robust motion tracking.
  • You can read the ARKit documentation here.

2. ARCore

ARCore is the popular AR framework from Google. Note the following relevant facts about ARCore:

  • This framework supports both Android and iOS devices. The iOS devices need to be compatible with ARKit, and they must be iOS 11.0 or later. You can view a list of devices that ARCore supports, here.
  • ARCore is a powerful framework, and it can estimate the real-world lighting conditions.
  • Another advantage of ARCore is the ability to detect the size and location of vertical, horizontal, and angled surfaces.
  • Motion tracking is a key feature of ARCore.
  • The framework is capable of real-time tracking, calculating the location of the device, and integrating digital content with the real-world environment.
  • You can find the ARCore SDKs here. Note that ARCore also supports Unity for Android and iOS.
  • ARCore documentations are available here, and here.

3. Vuforia

Vuforia is a powerful AR framework, and it’s from PTC, which is a reputed provider of IoT and AR solutions. The following quick facts are important here:

  • The framework offers powerful SDKs, which make developing high-quality AR apps easier.
  • Vuforia supports native development on Android and iOS, furthermore, it also supports cross-platform AR development using Unity. This is a key advantage for enterprises since they have a wide range of options.
  • You can access the Vuforia SDKs here. Vuforia also offers “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs) in popular languages, e.g., Java, C++, etc.
  • Vuforia has key use cases for industries like manufacturing, maintenance, sales & marketing, etc. These help enterprises since they can adopt the Vuforia solutions quickly, and get a good “Return on Investment” (ROI).
  • The framework can identify and track image targets and 3D objects in real-time, and businesses can use this capability to overlay digital content on top of the real-world environment.
  • Vuforia has the capability of tracking 3D targets, 2D targets, 3D multi-target configurations, and markerless image targets, making it a powerful framework.

You can read the Vuforia AR framework documentation here.

4. Wikitude

Wikitude is an experienced provider of AR solutions, and they have a set of powerful SDKs that make AR app development easier. Its solutions offer the following features and advantages:

  • The Wikitude SDKs offer geolocation, tracking, and image recognition capabilities.
  • Wikitude offers SDKs for native development on Android, iOS, and Windows, moreover, their SDK for Unity facilitates cross-platform development.
  • The company has SDKs for Cordova, Xamarin, etc., therefore, it covers the mobile platforms well.
  • Wikitude also has SDKs for “Smart Glass” platforms like Hololens, Epson Moverio, etc.
  • Additionally, the company offers SDKs for platforms like React Native, Ionic, etc. You can download their SDKs here.
  • Wikitude offers a cloud-based storage solution for large-scale AR development, and you can learn about it here.
  • AR developers can create, manage, test, and publish high-quality AR content using the Wikitude Studio.
  • These SDKs offer key AR features like 3D model rendering, location-based AR, video overlay, and SLAM.
  • The company offers extensive documentation, which includes SDK documentation and tutorials.

5. EasyAR

EasyAR, a provider of robust AR solutions has two pricing plans, and the premium version is more suitable for an enterprise. The features and advantages of it are as follows:

  • The EasyAR SDK Pro has APIs in C, C++, Java, Swift, and Objective-C, therefore, the SDK supports platforms like Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac OS.
  • It also supports Unity, therefore, cross-platform development is easier.
  • The premium SDK supports key AR capabilities like SLAM, planar image tracking, unlimited image recognition, multi-target simultaneous detection and tracking, 3D object tracking, etc.
  • It also supports video playback, transparent video playback, QR code scanning, etc.
  • You can download the premium SDK here, moreover, you can also get additional guidance by reviewing samples of code.

 

Planning an enterprise augmented reality project?

Your proposed enterprise augmented reality project is likely of strategic importance to your organization. Enterprise AR solutions certainly help with such projects, however, the project will likely be a complex one. Consider getting help from a reputed software development company, and read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” before you engage one.

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Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
I love all things blockchain and related to app development. What time I have when I am not busy writing for the DevTeam.Space blog of over 350 articles, I spend sitting around wondering what the future will look like 50 years from now.
Aran Davies