Virtual reality and augmented reality are two of the most game-changing technologies in existence. Virtual reality is technology that transports users to a simulated environment, whereas augmented reality is technology that allows users to superimpose digital elements onto their real world environment. To put it simply, virtual reality replaces your current reality with a simulated one, but augmented reality simply adds to your current reality.
Many people associate these technologies with gaming, but both augmented and virtual reality have been widely used outside of the gaming world, including in the e-commerce, real estate, automotive, education, and healthcare industries.
As these technologies continue to grow in popularity, more people may become interested in creating their own virtual or augmented reality experiences. Some people may want to create their own experience to benefit their business, whereas others may want to do it for their own personal enjoyment.
Either way, there are plenty of tools that make it easier than ever before to explore and create with augmented and virtual reality. Here are some of the best options:
Apple ARKit and RealityKit
Apple has two tools that are available to anyone who is interested in creating augmented reality experiences: ARKit and RealityKit.
ARKit is a software development tool that allows you to build augmented reality apps compatible with iOS devices.
Apple’s ARKit has a number of exciting features for augmented reality developers, including:
- Location anchors: This allows developers to create apps that provide users with different augmented reality experiences for specific locations. For example, an app may launch a unique experience whenever it detects that a user is at the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty.
- Front face-tracking capabilities: Apple’s face-tracking technology now works on the front-facing camera, so developers can build apps that allow users to enjoy augmented reality experiences when using the front-facing camera.
- Instant placement: Newer Apple devices are built with LiDAR scanners, which are capable of detecting planes at an incredibly fast pace. Thanks to this technology, users no longer need to use their devices to scan their real world environment before engaging in an augmented reality experience. Now, augmented reality objects are instantly placed in a user’s real world environment. No scanning is required.
- Occlusion: This feature makes the augmented reality experience more realistic by enabling augmented reality objects to pass behind and in front of objects in the user’s real world environment.
RealityKit is a tool that you can use to create high-quality augmented reality content for your app. In other words, you can use ARKit to build the augmented reality app itself and RealityKit to build production-quality augmented reality content for the app.
Take your augmented reality app to the next level by using RealityKit to:
- Place audio files into the user’s real world environment.
- Animate augmented reality objects.
- Build augmented reality objects using a wide variety of meshes, materials, and textures.
- Enable group experiences, so users can share augmented reality experiences with friends and family.
Together, these tools have been used to create thousands of different augmented reality apps that are available for download in the Apple App Store.
Google AR Core
Similar to Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore is a platform that provides developers with the tools they need to build augmented reality apps. Even though this platform was designed by Google, it can be used to create augmented reality apps for both Android and iOS devices.
Some of the many features that developers can take advantage of on the ARCore platform include:
- Environmental HDR: This feature extends the lighting from the user’s real world environment onto virtual objects to make the entire augmented reality experience more realistic and lifelike.
- Cloud anchors: This feature enables multi-user augmented reality experiences, so users can experience augmented reality together.
- Environmental understanding: Devices use this technology to detect horizontal and vertical surfaces and planes in the user’s environment.
Anyone can download the Google ARCore Software Development Kit (SDK) to start building their own augmented reality apps. The platform even provides augmented reality design guidelines which developers can follow to create a compelling, user-friendly experience for users.
In the past, creating a custom augmented reality experience may have cost thousands of dollars. But the process of building augmented reality experiences has become far more accessible and inexpensive thanks to apps like Overly.
The app was designed with small- and medium-sized businesses in mind, but individuals can also use Overly to create their own augmented reality experience.
Here’s how it works:
- Upload a trigger image to the Overly app. This is the image that users must scan in order to see your augmented reality content in the Overly app. This photo must be unique to ensure no one else has already used it on Overly.
- Upload the augmented reality content that you want to appear whenever your trigger image is scanned. You can upload a video, three-dimensional model, or animation.
- Publish your augmented reality experience on the Overly app.
That’s all it takes to bring your augmented reality vision to life using this innovative app.
Adobe Aero is a platform that allows designers and developers to build unique augmented reality experiences on their smartphones or desktop computers.
This platform is incredibly user-friendly, so you don’t need to know the first thing about coding or software development to use it. If you aren’t sure where to begin, simply visit the homepage and watch the interactive step-by-step tour to learn more about how to use the platform.
The best part about Adobe Aero is that it can be used with other Adobe products. Adobe Aero allows you to build augmented reality experiences using two-dimensional images from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator or three-dimensional digital elements from Adobe Dimension or Adobe Substance.
Being able to import your own creative assets gives you the opportunity to create something truly unique and special. But if you are exploring augmented reality for the first time, you may not have any assets of your own to import. In this case, you also have the option of importing creative assets from Adobe’s stock library or select third-party apps.
Anything you create within Adobe Aero can easily be shared via a link or social media. This allows you to show off your latest creation to your loved ones or send a link to a key stakeholder for their review.
Many people use this tool to create augmented reality experiences for business purposes. If you have already built an app for your business, you have the option of exporting your augmented reality experience directly into the app once it’s done.
CoSpaces EDU is a kid-friendly tool that has been embraced by teachers around the world. This tool can be used in a number of different ways.
First, teachers can use CoSpaces EDU to help students understand difficult topics. The tool uses virtual reality technology to give kids the opportunity to explore art galleries, exhibitions, and classic stories in a new and exciting way. Using virtual reality to introduce these topics will keep kids engaged and interested in the curriculum.
Using this tool, kids can also choose from a wide variety of environments, objects, characters, and other digital elements to build their own virtual reality experience. They can even upload their own images, videos, and sounds to customize their new virtual world. If they really want to go the extra mile, they can even record their own voiceover to play inside their virtual world.
CoSpaces EDU also enhances the educational experience by allowing students to project augmented reality content into their real world environment. For example, students in a biology class may project a digital model of the human brain into the classroom. This way, they can physically interact with the subject matter instead of just reading about it in a textbook.
The CoSpaces EDU platform makes the learning experience more fun for students—and makes life easier for teachers, too!
Augmented reality technology can be used in many ways, including to enhance the storytelling experience. Devar is an innovative platform that uses augmented reality technology to bring kids’ stories to life.
For example, say your child wants to read a book from the My Little Pony series. Instead of simply reading the text and looking at the pictures, your child can bring the story to life using the Devar augmented reality platform.
Your child can project digital versions of their favorite characters from the My Little Pony book directly onto their real world environment. They can even interact with these characters while they continue reading the story.
This platform makes reading more enjoyable for kids of all ages. It can also be used to help kids grasp more difficult topics in educational books. For instance, kids can use the Devar platform to bring a book on the solar system to life. Being able to visualize each of the planets, their rotations around the sun, and other details could help kids better understand this complex subject matter.
Thyng is an app that is designed to help businesses and individuals create custom augmented reality experiences. Users can customize their augmented reality experience by adding digital objects available through the app or uploading their own videos or photos. After adding the objects to your augmented reality scene, you can adjust their size or modify the lighting until you create the look you desire.
Once your creation is complete, the app allows you to take pictures or videos of your masterpiece so you can share it with your friends or family.
There are many apps out there that allow users to create augmented reality experiences, but few that can compare to Thyng. The Thyng app sets itself apart from its competitors by allowing users to create digital versions of themselves that they can add to their augmented reality experience. This gives you the opportunity to see yourself do things that you wouldn’t be able to do in the real world, such as slam-dunking a basketball, doing acrobatics, or even flying.
Merge EDU is a teaching aid that is designed specifically for students studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).
These subjects are difficult to learn without the use of physical models and objects. For instance, students may find it hard to learn about the composition of igneous rocks just by reading about it in a textbook. But they may quickly grasp this concept if there is a physical model of an igneous rock in the classroom that they can examine.
Most schools do not have the resources to provide teachers with these helpful physical models and teaching aids. But fortunately, now students can get the same hands-on learning experience using Merge EDU.
Merge EDU gives students access to over 1000 digital teaching aids and over 100 multi-sensory, interactive simulations. Not only will this help STEM students gain a deeper understanding of these topics, but it will also help them become familiar with augmented and virtual reality technologies, which could play a major role in their future careers.
Oculus VR Tutorial
Oculus is one of the biggest manufacturers of virtual reality headsets, so it’s only fitting that the company offers a free tutorial on building your first virtual reality app.
This tutorial will not teach you how to build a custom virtual reality app. Instead, the Oculus tutorial teaches you how to build a simple virtual reality app in Unity, which is video game software.
The tutorial will take you through the step-by-step process of designing a virtual reality game that features a ball on a flat surface enclosed by four walls. The goal of the game is to continuously keep the ball rolling to prevent it from colliding with one of the four walls. If it makes contact with a wall, the wall will change colors.
Remember, the Oculus tutorial will only teach you how to create this simple virtual reality game. But even though you cannot create a unique virtual reality experience, this tutorial is still incredibly helpful.
By the end of it, you will understand the basics of virtual reality app development in Unity, including how to build scenes, add game objects, and define the behaviors of the game objects. You can then use these skills to build your own virtual reality experiences using Unity software.
You don’t need to be tech-savvy in order to use these tools to build your own augmented reality or virtual reality experience. These tools make it easy for people of all skill levels to create a unique experience for business or personal use.