WE/AR Blog All You Need to Know About Location-Based Augmented Reality
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All You Need to Know About Location-Based Augmented Reality

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By Oleg Boiko
12 min read
20.06.2022
Location-Based AR

Even if you didn’t hear the term location based augmented reality, you have undoubtedly encountered the applications that use this technology. The developers try to use every possible feature to make the augmented reality experience feel more natural to the users, and location identification is one of them.

Using location-based augmented reality applications, users can even forget that they use the technology that makes magic when connected to different objects. Instead, they start to feel they are carrying magic with themselves, making the whole experience other-worldly and exciting.

What Is Location-Based Augmented Reality?

Location-based augmented reality is the technology that doesn’t require any physical markers or identifiers to work. Unlike the marker-based augmented reality brands in merchandise and advertising, which typically connects to the products or shop locations, location-based technology doesn’t require such connection. This technology is also called markerless, position-based, or geo-based augmented reality, and it is bound to the GPS that gives the users’ location.

How Does Location-Based AR Work?

The location-based augmented reality heavily depends on real-time location systems (RTLS). These systems are the ones that identify the present location of the users by getting the information from the sensors. Then, they transfer this information to the technology, and the latter can compare the location to the point of interest, getting the best place for the virtual data in the outside world.

When building an augmented reality with geolocation, three main points matter the most:

  1. Sensors.
    The technology accepts the information about the position and motions of the user from the sensors. That’s why they are the essential ingredient of the AR apps that use location. The sensors must be placed correctly to connect and send the right signals to the system.
  2. Points of interest.
    You can think of points of interest as the virtual layers of the image displayed on the users’ screen. Once the system receives the correct information and connects the dots, it must understand what data to show the user.
  3. Technique for connecting points.
    The work of the markerless application depends on how detailed is the information about the users’ location. Connecting sensors and points of interest must work as correctly as possible to provide the most efficient picture.

Industries that Use Location-Based AR Apps

Let’s take a look at some industries that capitalize on location-based AR applications and make the most of this technology.

Education

Location-based AR in Education
Source: shutterstock.com

The technology makes everything seem possible, and AR makes it look more natural. In education, this technology proves to be much more helpful as it can play on the children’s needs to play and be active and teach them something essential.

The education industry uses marker-based AR technology more commonly, but for some subjects, the location-based AR is a better fit — for instance, astrology or geography. After all, how can you explore the endless territories or put the markers on them with the limited technology?

Marketing and Advertising

Location Based AR In Marketing
Source: chriswomersley.co.uk

The marketing agencies were one of the first companies that put the AR technologies to good use. The marketers and brand owners know more than anybody how important it is to capture the eye of the customers and make their products stand out among the competitors on the market.

So they also found out how to use markerless AR applications to promote the products — the users can use their smartphones in any location on the right triggers and see the picture the marketers aimed to show them. Their experience with AR is an advertisement in a nutshell — people like to try something unusual and share it with their friends.

Construction

AR safety training in construction
Image from techgyd.com

The most frequent challenge in the construction works is that the industry workers cannot see the final product before finishing it. Often, the final result is different from the intended, or the construction workers see the mistakes in measurements. Augmented reality helps with all these problems — for instance, users can look for the suitable locations for their dream houses or know whether they will fit within the borders.

Real Estate

AR Real Estate
Image from shutterstock.com

Imagine you are walking the street and seeing the house of your dreams. How useful would it be if you could find out the rental price by only using the camera of your smartphone on it? That’s what location-based AR does in the real estate industry. Real estate agents have much less trouble advertising their services when they trust technology with remembering the prices and descriptions on the rental estate and directing users to their website for the contacts.

Tourism

Location Based AR in Tourism
Source: shutterstock.com

When traveling to other countries, we usually prepare detailed plans of things we want to try, see, and visit. For traveling with AR, we need only Internet access, and your smartphone will lead you through. The location-based AR applications keep the data about every sightseeing place and its routes. Then, they can show you the nearest ones using your location and dive into their history when you are at a site.

Retail

AR Retail
Image from shutterstock.com

The retailers also found a way to use markerless augmented reality. The technology could anchor the augmented product to any environment, and brands were quick to use it. For instance, IKEA and Amazon use AR to allow customers to see the items they sell in their home or yard environment.

Gaming and Entertainment

pokemon go
Image from teahub.io

Game developers work hard every day to make the game seem a reality. So when AR appeared, they jumped on the opportunity to create location based augmented reality games. Let’s take Pokemon Go, for example. The application went through the news inside and outside the game industry with the same power level. As a result, millions of people wanted to find out whether they could find a pokemon somewhere in their location.

Healthcare

Regarding healthcare, location-based AR comes in hand with the ability to adjust the information to where the person is using an app. For instance, an application AED4EU shows the users the nearest locations where they can find automated defibrillators. This app is not just helpful; it can save lives.

Location-Based AR: Best Examples

Many brands now use AR technology in general, but only some have started using location-based AR. The examples show how useful it is for advertising and brand recognition.

Vortex Planetarium

Who doesn’t want to know secrets that are hidden in the sky? The Vortex Planetarium allows everyone to look into the sky and see every constellation and its sacred meaning. Above everything, the application enables calculating moon phases, eclipses, and so much more.

IKEA Place

Furniture shopping can be fun, and usually, you want to buy every piece sold by the shop to make your home look as good as the presentations built by the marketers. However, when you bring the actual thing into your house, there is a good chance it won’t look like in the picture. IKEA Place found a way to solve this problem.

In partnership with Apple, the Swedish brand made an AR application that can place any furniture item in the environment of your house. This way, people can quickly see how it looks and create a more thoughtful decision to buy it.

Magical Park

The AR location-based application Magical Park is creating the fantasy from the real-life parks of Australia. The game developers decided that the children love games more than exercise, so they came up with the idea to combine both. Children can walk through the city parks using the app and see dinosaurs, fairies, and other magical creatures casually walking around them.

Star Walk

Star Walk is another fascinating astronomy application that lets users dive into the fantastical world of stars and planets in AR mode. The app gives you the best experience of stargazing by going with you wherever you choose to look above and explore the stars. It identifies your location and gives you detailed information about every star, planet, or constellation on your way.

WallaMe

The location based AR application WallaMe takes a creative approach to augmented reality. It uses location recognition technology to allow users to make any wall near them more colorful by placing graffiti on it. Users can create pictures, put them on the wall virtually, and then save the shot on their phone to share with friends.

New York’s Museum of Modern Art

 

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Who says that art and technology have to be foes and not friends? The New York’s Museum of Modern Art decided to combine the two in their breathtaking exhibitions. The visitors of the Museum have to download the MoMAR app and hold their phones over specified frames and spaces to view alternate artwork. After all, what screams more about modern art than AR?

TIME’s Apollo 11 ‘Landing on the Moon’

The augmented reality is equally valuable for journalism as the method of wholly immersing readers in the stories. The Time showed it by example when it created an immersive app that allowed users to hold their phones’ cameras over any surface and see in detail the legendary landing of the Apollo 11 on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Florence Travel Guide

The augmented reality did wonders for the tourism industry, especially when the COVID pandemic placed many limitations on traveling. So, the developers of Florence Travel Guide decided to make an app allowing users to explore Florence independently. What’s more, users can make the most of this AR app in an offline mode. Visitors of Florence could find the interactive points of interest on the maps showing public bus stops, restaurants, pubs, hotels, hospitals, museums, theatres, and many others.

How to Develop a Location-Based Augmented Reality App: Step-By-Step

When you see the examples of the location-based AR applications and know how they work, let’s see which steps you should take to create one.

Step 1. Prepare the data that you want to place in the real world.

The preparation stage always sets the tone for the whole development process. First, you must decide what data you want to show your users through augmented reality. For instance, the Florence Travel Guide contains information about the tourist attractions, hotels or cafes, addresses, prices, etc. If your app has complex 3D objects or games, apart from text, think of the game engine to use, like Unity Engine.

Step 2. Choose the developer’s tool.

To develop the AR application of location-based type, you should choose the developer’s tool that will answer all the requests for your data. Essentially, there are three most powerful tools to choose from:

  • AR Kit by Apple
    The developer’s tool by Apple is integrated with Unity Engine, so it will be a great choice if you are developing a complex AR app. It scans the environment using computer vision and the phone camera and adjusts to the lighting to make the app’s use comfortable for the user. Also, it can remember the location where users’ last used the app.
  • AR Core by Google
    Apple’s main competitor also has the developer’s tool for creating location-based AR apps. However, the feature that puts it above the others is a mapping that can detect horizontal and vertical environments and do motion tracking. In the latest tool update, the developers added the feature of detecting objects from different angles.
  • Wikitude
    Wikitude also promises an excellent environment recognition feature by scanning the rooms and landscapes. In addition, it has the Unity plugin and geolocation support and integrates with Android and iOS. However, if you choose Wikitude for your product, mind that it can be costly.

Step 3. Integrate the geolocation in the app.

The excellent mapping feature you can trust with detecting geolocation makes Google’s AR Core so good for developing this type of app. If your developer’s tool doesn’t have it, you should add this feature by yourself. After all, what is a location-based AR app without augmented reality geolocation?

The most common way to determine the outdoor location of the users is the augmented reality GPS. It can detect the position of a person almost everywhere in the world but is highly energy-consuming. That’s why you should use Android’s or iOS’s location services.

Most Common Issues You Can Encounter in the Process

Developing the location-based AR application is a complex process, and every step and attention to detail are crucial. You should know about the most common issues you can have while creating the product to try and avoid them in the future, including the following.

  • If you make an uneven connection between the sensors, they will not respond to the users’ requests at the same time. It will lead to a broken picture, and the data movements will go all wrong. To solve this issue, you should look at STEM technology, which tracks the phone’s position and environment in the most detail.
  • The app fails to track the accurate distance between the user’s phone and the object. If this happens, users will not get the data when needed and become confused about using the app as a whole. You should check if the GPS works well with your application to avoid such misfortunate scenarios.
  • The incorrect placement of the points of interest can lead to the wrong layering of the objects the user sees on the screen. Just like with the sensors, you need to ensure that you place them in the right places so the camera will remember the scene without depending on users angling the camera in the right way.

Future Potential for Location-Based AR Technology

The AR technology started a new era in tech development; every year, it is layered with new features. The most significant development companies explore AR and come up with new products. Only in July of 2022, at the WWDC developer conference, Apple shared the news on developing the AR/VR headset that is planned to be released in 2023.

Investing in AR technology is looking into the future; no company or industry can stay aside. If you plan to create the location-based AR application, now you’re equipped with all the information. Suppose you want to trust the development of the application to the experts. In that case, we at We/AR can help you by taking your project from the planning stage through the development and then analyzing the results and acceptance by the audience. Simply contact us at hello@wear-studio.com, and one of our experts will give you the consultation and develop the steps.