Ways to develop for AR
There are a few ways to develop augmented reality apps, including native development in Android Studio to using engines like Unity. This depends on what SDK you choose to use. Here are a few AR SDKs that are available today:
- Vuforia – Developed by Qualcomm, this SDK supports Android and iOS with Unity support. This what we will be using in the next section when developing an AR app for Android. This SDK supports multiple targets at a time whether they are images or English text, Smart Terrain (which allows for the reconstruction of the physical world), and local and cloud databases.
- ARLab – More than just a SDK, ARLab also has a 3D engine that can be used to make AR apps. ARLab is not free, and offers a few different pricing options depending on what features you want to incorporate into your app. ARLab includes virtual buttons, image tracking and image matching. Pricing for ARLab can be found here.
- DroidAR – DroidAR is an open source AR SDK that supports image tracking and markers as well as location based AR. If open source is your thing, give DroidAR a try. Keep in mind that there is no Unity plugin if that is something that you are looking for, and as the name suggests, Android is the only supported operating system.
Using Unity for AR development
While native development is possible for AR development, it is just as easy to use Unity to make your app. First things first, download Unity. Go through the necessary steps and get Unity installed. Once installed, open Unity and create a new project, make sure “3D’ is selected. Once open, download the Vuforia SDK and samples. Note that you do not need to import the SDK file if you open a sample project, as they include all of the files needed.
Once downloaded, extract the zip files and put the contents in a safe location that you will remember. Go back to Unity and click File>Open Scene. For this article we will be focusing on the “User defined targets” file. Click on this file to open the project. When the file is open, go to the Scenes folder in the content viewer in the bottom middle, there should be four scenes.