Augmented Reality App Development: A Comprehensive 2024 Guide

Immersive technologies are transforming the world by adding virtual objects and enabling interaction with them. This attracts more consumers, enhances customer experience, and provides new opportunities for brand promotion. The perspectives opening up for business owners prompt them to learn more about application development with augmented reality features.

In this article, we will explore the terminology, necessary technologies, and key stages of implementing AR software. We will also get acquainted with successful examples of using such products in various industries.

What is AR App Development?

AR technology provides users with an immersive experience built on adding modeled virtual 2D or 3D objects and environments to the real-world environment, allowing interaction with them.

What is AR App Development?

Augmented reality apps development involves designing 2D or 3D models and implementing algorithms necessary to overlay AR content on the camera lens. Integrating digital objects into the physical world occurs in real-time, enhancing user perception and providing a presence effect.

The development of augmented reality began in the 1990s when Virtual Vision created the first headset with a camera and a small computer to display virtual details in the user's field of vision. By the early 2000s, AR gained broader recognition and entered the commercial market. For example, companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft started releasing their platforms and augmented reality applications for shopping, entertainment, education, and more.

The Different Flavors of Augmented Reality

Let's explore the most common types of applications to delve deeper into the world of innovative AR technologies

  • Marker-Based AR: Also known as AR, it is based on image recognition; this technology relies on identifying user-selected visual content or markers (patterns of physical objects in the real environment). The program scans these patterns and then adds virtual objects to them.

  • Marker-less AR: These apps do not require the recognition of physical images or objects, providing more opportunities to place AR content in physical space.

  • Location-Based AR: Solutions that operate on smartphones by reading data from the camera, GPS, digital compass, or accelerometer. By orienting to the user's location, the program overlays the necessary virtual object.

  • Superimposition-Based AR: Apps also read markers of real objects, offering complete or partial alteration of the object's original appearance.

  • Mixed Reality (MR): Here, augmented reality intersects with elements of VR technologies. MR programs allow for an interactive layer over AR details, providing a more natural interaction with objects in a virtual environment and, consequently, better user experiences.

Each product serves a purpose in different industries, and experts predict a bright future for AR applications.

Business owners actively seek optimal ways to integrate augmented reality technology into their companies. This is confirmed by data from The Business Research Company, showing a cumulative annual growth rate of 58.4% for the global AR market.

In 2022, it was estimated at $11.44 billion; by 2023, its volume had grown to $18.14 billion. This trend will continue in the coming years, with the market projected to reach $114.59 billion by 2027.

Latest Trends in AR App Development for 2023

Wearable AR devices like glasses and headsets attract special interest from developers and major IT corporations. Companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook invest significantly in technologies that change the physical world. As a result, we can expect a digital transformation in the future that will change our familiar experiences in education, work, shopping, and more.

Picking the Right Technologies

There are ready-made software development kits (SDKs) for augmented reality application development.

SDKs & Libraries

Based on their own experience and the successful cases, experts at Lampa consider the following development tools for AR apps to be among the most reliable:

  • Vuforia: An SDK for augmented reality solutions that recognizes texts and multiple objects simultaneously and provides a broad vocabulary. Its technology stack allows real-time tracking and identification of photos and 3D models.

  • Wikitude: A toolkit that aids in developing location-based augmented reality apps. It also uses SLAM technology for image recognition.

  • Apple ARKit: A technology stack for developing apps for iOS and iPadOS. It helps blend 2D and 3D objects with the physical world, precisely track the surrounding reality, and easily integrate with third-party resources like Unity or Unreal Engine.

Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise

For augmented reality app development, developers can use local storage to host the software on physical servers. However, this implies additional expenses for acquisition, installation, and maintenance. This option is suitable for long-term AR projects and companies with an unlimited budget.

A more budget-friendly option is cloud solutions hosted on remote servers. By renting them, you get the necessary development programs without spending time on installation in the office. To build a successful IT project, you need to choose the right technology stack and follow a clearly defined plan of action.

Step-by-Step Guide to Developing an AR App

If you are interested in creating your own AR application, we recommend that you do some preliminary work and familiarize yourself with the key stages of development:

  1. Conceptualization
    Explore your idea, business goals, and user interests, and assess the budget. Then, define the main and additional features of the future solution and create a list of requirements.
  2. Design Prototyping
    Think about how you want to see your product based on immersive technologies. Create layouts and frameworks in collaboration with UX/UI designers to achieve an attractive visual for the application.
  3. AR Development
    Here, you need steady communication with the AR development team to formulate tasks for them and track the progress of writing each function.
  4. Testing and QA
    All individual components of the AR application are tested, refined, and rechecked. This way, you get a high-performance, secure, and reliable product.
  5. Launch Strategy
    Study the requirements of the store where you want to add your solution. Also, consider which other platforms you can promote the project and develop an advertising campaign to notify as many potential users as possible.

Industry Applications of AR Technology

Augmented reality doesn't provide the full immersion into the digital world that VR does. However, this fact hasn't hindered the popularization of AR app development across various industries:

  • Healthcare: Applied during surgeries and other medical procedures for training specialists and deepening knowledge of human anatomy. For instance, the Touch Surgery app allows students to perform virtual surgeries and hone their skills.

  • Real Estate: Used for remote demonstrations of houses and spaces. For example, Zillow released the My 3D Home control panel, enabling tours of properties listed for sale or rent.

  • Gaming: The most successful example in the gaming industry is Pokemon GO, an app based on reading real-world locations and placing virtual Pokemon in them.

Among other industries where augmented reality is relevant are tourism and travel, education, e-commerce, and military applications.

Conclusion & Future Prospects

Augmented reality apps are a relevant industry with a bright future. Users' desire for a new interaction experience with brands through virtual objects has generated significant interest from business owners. Numerous technologies and tools have been developed to meet entrepreneurs' needs in implementing IT projects with AR features and to create new solutions.

To obtain a reliable product, you need to analyze your goals, needs, audience, and budget. By selecting industry-experienced professionals with expertise in AR technologies, you increase the chances of designing a unique app that will benefit your company.

Need professional assistance gathering all the required artifacts to build a mobile app? Order product ideation services from Lampa!


In-house development vs outsourcing: Which is better?

The answer depends on your individual requirements. For long-term AR projects that require further scaling, in-house development is preferable. For small and medium applications, choosing an outsourcing team is recommended. Delegating tasks to external specialists is also more advantageous for companies without their own IT departments.

Common pitfalls in AR app development?

Common challenges in project creation include compatibility issues on different devices, incorrect display of virtual objects, and accuracy in recognizing physical items and locations. To avoid such difficulties, it is crucial to plan development carefully, choose appropriate tools, and seek guidance from experienced industry specialists.

What skills are needed for AR app development?

An AR development specialist should possess skills in 3D modeling and visualization, work with AR development frameworks (such as mastery of ARKit for iOS, ARCore for Android, and Unity/Unreal Engine), and know coding languages such as .NET, C++/C#, Java/JavaScript, Swift, or Python.

What's the cost range for developing an AR app?

The cost of AR mobile app development varies from $10,000 for a simple solution and can reach $20,000 or more for medium and large projects. The design requirements, number of features, experience, location of developers, and other factors also influence the price of creating an AR product.

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