ArticlesAugmented Reality Tools

Augmented reality is currently booming, and with Apple’s goal to make augmented reality mainstream and their announcement of ARKit at the WWDC 2017, all developers are on the hunt to find the best augmented reality tools to create the next big augmented reality app or game. With so many augmented reality tools out there, it’s hard to know which one to go with. First, you need to define your objectives.

 

Augmented Reality Tools

 

You need to determine what kind of augmented reality you want for your mobile app or game: marker-based or location-based. Marker-based augmented reality tools are based on image recognition. Location-based augmented reality tools are based on position detectors or GPS to determine your current location and then adjust the environment and create objects accordingly.

The more advanced the augmented reality tools are, the more powerful they can detect 3D markers and real-life objects. The most advanced augmented reality SDKs support recognition of 3D markers and real-life objects. Of course, there are other aspects that you need to consider including supported platforms, whether they offer a Unity plugin, as well as additional features and pricing.

That’s why we’ve compiled below the top 11 augmented reality tools in 2017 to choose from based on your needs.

 

 

Augmented Reality Tools

 

ARKit

 

 

ARKit is Apple’s brand new augmented reality framework for iOS apps and games, which was introduced as part of iOS 11. It recognizes the environment around you, including planes and objects, and then allows you to place your own objects in that environment, manipulate them and keep track of them as the iPhone moves.

ARKit integrates with Apple’s 2D and 3D gaming platforms, SceneKit and SpriteKit, very easily and all it takes to set up the SceneKit’s view is about four lines of code and then one for adding ARKit.

  • Platforms: iOS.
  • Unity Supported: Yes
  • Pricing: Based on demand, depending on active projects, not users.

 

 

ARLab

 

 

ARLab allows you to add and remove augmented reality geolocation view to your apps in real-time. Its framework is fully customizable with an extremely easy-to-use API.

It takes care of all the complex functionalities of the augmented reality so that you can just focus on designing you application.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Plans start at 199€ per app.

 

 

Vuforia

 

 

Vuforia is another AR SDK that aside from iOS and Android also supports Windows Phone and Unity. One of its biggest pros is its cloud recognition service that allows you to use either local or cloud databases to process image recognition as well as its target tracking and multi-target detection.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $499, with Cloud plans at $99 per month.

 

 

EasyAR

 

 

EasyAR has two huge selling points: it supports all of the major platforms and it’s free. The free plan offers all of the important features like cloud recognition support, QR code scanning, unlimited recognition times, and more.

It also offers a paid plan with a few extra features like 3D object tracking, which allows you to recognize and track a common 3D object with textures in real time as well as screen recording.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Free. Paid plan at $499 per app.

 

 

Wikitude

 

 

Wikitude is a truly all-in-one augmented reality SDK. It combines all of the major features that other augmented reality tools offer in one place including instant 3D tracking technology, object and image recognition and tracking, and geo-location augmented reality.

The only downside for this is the hefty prices that all of this comes with, whether for one-time licenses or for monthly and cloud plans, which is definitely not indie developer-friendly.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Plans start at 1,990€, with Cloud plans at 4490€ per year.

 

 

ARToolKit

 

 

ARToolKit is an open-source tracking and recognition SDK. It’s one of the first augmented reality SDKs to be released. It’s fast, easy-to-use, and free. However, it’s kind of limited in terms of what it has to offer.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Free.

 

 

Maxst

 

 

Maxst has five key functions including image tracking, instant tracking, visual simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM), object tracking, and barcode scanning. This is another powerful tool that has great features but isn’t indie developer-friendly, as the free plan is only for non-profit AR projects.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $499.

 

 

Kudan

 

 

Kudan AR is the only SDK available with markerless and marker operation and 2D/3D rendering in a single package. Highly configurable, it offers great image recognition, low memory footprint, lightning-fast development speed, and no limit on number of markers.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Free. £1,000 per year per app.

 

 

XZIMG

 

 

XZIMG offers three products: Augmented Face providing high quality face tracking, Augmented Vision providing fiducial markers and images tracking, and Magic Face providing deformable face tracking — all ideal to create efficient AR-based applications.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Free Trial. Paid plans for Augmented Face at 19,000 HK$ (~2,200€), Augmented Vision at 14,000 HK$ (~1,600€), and 95,000 HK$ (~11,000€).

 

 

NyARToolklit

 

 

NYARToolKit is a simplified version of ARToolKit. It’s an easy, free tool that you can delve into right away if your only needs are images identification and tracking.

  • Platforms: iOS, Android.
  • Unity Supported: Yes.
  • Pricing: Free.

 

 

DroidAR

 

 

DroidAR is the only augmented reality framework dedicated only to Android. It features location-based as well as marker-based augmented reality.
It’s a free open source framework, which is good if you want something quick for Android.

  • Platforms: Android.
  • Unity Supported: No.
  • Pricing: Free.