5 Excellent Tools for Augmented Reality in Mobile Apps

In contrast to Virtual Reality (VR) that replaces the real world with the virtual one, Augmented Reality (AR) overlays fragments of a virtual world over the real world. For mobile devices, this signifies enhancing what a person sees through the camera of the device with multimedia content. Fundamentally, AR comes down to three basic questions- ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ to display. ‘Where’ involves areas such as 2-D image tracking and matching, 3-D object tracking and matching, location tracking, SLAM tracking and face detection and tracking. At times, ‘where’ is nothing but some predefined point locations, also known as Points of Interest (POIs). ‘What’ and ‘how’ control 3-D model rendering, gesture detection and animations. In general, ‘what’ encapsulates any piece of digital information that the user might be able to interact with. Here’s a list of 5 AR tools that are widely used for developing apps for tablets, smart-phones and also smart-glasses.




Vuforia supports the discovery of multiple targets like English text, objects, images, etc. Some of the features of Vuforia SDK include virtual buttons, extended tracking, multi-target detection and Smart TerrainTM. For the purpose of image recognition, Vuforia allows apps to make use of databases that are either in the Cloud or local on the device. The platform is available for iOS, Unity and Android. For smart-glasses, there is a version of the SDK (Samsung GearVR, ODG R-6 and R-7 and Epson Moverio).

Wikitude AR SDK


Wikitude AR SDK is available for iOS, Android, Google Glass, Vuzix M-100, Optinvent ORA1, Epson Moverio and also as a plugin for PhoneGap, a component for Xamarina and a module for Titanium. It supports image tracking and recognition, video overlays, 3-D model rendering and animations, video, text, button and HTML augmentations and location based tracking.



LayAR, as the name implies allows you to watch the terrain through the layers that are mapped on the mobile device screens. It supports image recognition and mapping of additional elements on the base of recognized images and user location. Each of the layers of framework includes the information about the location of social net users or specific places. The functionality of LayAR allows expanding the abilities of printed products. For instance, you can listen to a song that was mentioned in a magazine or make an order in a printed catalog.



A set of Augmented Reality (AR) software tools, ARToolKit can be used in AR apps. Its major benefit includes an open source code that means a free access to the library. ARToolKit supports 2D recognition and mapping of additional elements via OpenGL. The library allows an advance tracking down of the object markers through a mobile device camera and reproducing the locations on a device screen. The developer can then create an interface for augmented reality using the data received.  ARToolKit is available for different platforms including Windows, Android, iOS, Mac OS X, SGI and Linux.

Kudan AR


The Kudan functionality includes image recognition, mapping of additional elements on the base of recognized images and user location, markless tracking and mapping additional elements via a distinct element over OpenGL. Kudan is faster as compared to other frameworks and assists mobile AR apps to import 3-D models from one of the packages of modeling software and also map multi-polygonal models in reality.

The AR libraries described above offer a range of opportunities for app development. While choosing a particular framework, a developer has to take into consideration what he gets. Some of the tools are available free of cost and can be downloaded from the website while other tools require paying a fee and signing a contract. While selecting an AR tool, consider your project tasks and the results that you want to achieve and then match them with the functionalities of AR libraries.

Here you can read more about AR: 8 things you need to know about Augmented Reality.

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