15 Best Augmented Reality Solutions

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by tech-n-design

As augmented reality (AR) technology continues to make significant strides, it has become an indispensable asset for businesses seeking to enrich user experiences and streamline operations.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular can benefit greatly from the implementation of AR solutions, as they offer a competitive edge through immersive, engaging, and innovative applications.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience that seamlessly integrates digital elements into the real world, enhancing users’ perception and interaction with their environment. AR technology overlays virtual objects or information onto the user’s field of view, creating a composite view that combines both physical and digital elements. This analysis will explore five key categories within the AR ecosystem:

  1. Development platforms and SDKs,
  2. Gaming platforms,
  3. Education and training software,
  4. Retail and e-commerce software, and
  5. Remote collaboration and communication software.

However, AR and Virtual Reality (VR) are not just about the software. There’s a significant emphasis on hardware and platform knowledge, which are integral for anyone looking to master the AR and VR landscape.

In fact, I’ve dived into some of the essential skills you would need. Among these skills, Hardware and Platform Knowledge stands as a beacon of importance. It’s fascinating how a solid grasp of the hardware and the platforms can significantly elevate your expertise in AR and VR, and by extension, in animation software. So, as you navigate through the AR solutions in this piece, taking a detour to understand the hardware aspect through the lens of animation software skills could provide a more rounded understanding.

Augmented Reality Solutions

AR Development Platforms and SDKs:

AR Gaming Platforms:

AR Education and Training Software:

AR Retail and E-commerce Software:

AR Remote Collaboration and Communication Software:

AR Development Platforms and SDKs

AR Development Platforms and SDKs (Software Development Kits) are essential components in the creation of augmented reality experiences. These tools provide developers with a comprehensive set of frameworks, libraries, and application programming interfaces (APIs) necessary to build, test, and deploy AR applications across a range of devices and platforms. By leveraging these resources, developers can create immersive and interactive AR experiences tailored to various industries and use cases.

  • Frameworks and Libraries: AR development platforms often include pre-built frameworks and libraries, which offer a foundation upon which developers can build their applications. These frameworks provide essential functionalities such as object tracking, surface detection, and image recognition, simplifying the development process and allowing developers to focus on creating engaging content and interactions.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: AR applications must cater to diverse devices and operating systems, so AR development platforms and SDKs often emphasize cross-platform compatibility. By supporting multiple platforms, such as iOS, Android, and Windows, these tools enable developers to create AR experiences that reach a wider audience and maintain consistency across devices.
  • APIs and Integration: AR development platforms and SDKs typically offer APIs that facilitate seamless integration with other software solutions and tools, such as 3D modeling software, content management systems, and analytics tools. This integration capability allows developers to create comprehensive AR experiences that leverage the full potential of existing technologies and data sources.
  • Performance Optimization: Developing AR applications requires careful consideration of performance constraints, as rendering digital content in real-time can be computationally intensive. AR development platforms and SDKs often provide performance optimization tools and best practices, enabling developers to create applications that run smoothly on various devices with different hardware specifications.
  • Developer Resources and Support: AR development platforms and SDKs usually provide comprehensive documentation, sample projects, and tutorials. These resources enable developers to quickly familiarize themselves with the tools and techniques needed to create AR applications. Additionally, active developer communities and support forums can offer valuable insights and assistance during development.

Examples include:

  • Unity MARS: This powerful tool from Unity allows for seamless AR development. With its user-friendly interface, it’s perfect for beginners and experts alike.
  • SketchFab: SketchFab is a leading platform for sharing, discovering, and buying 3D, AR, and VR content. It offers a vast library of models and a powerful viewer for embedding content on websites or applications.
  • Kudan: Kudan is a cutting-edge AR and computer vision SDK that provides efficient and accurate simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology, enabling advanced AR experiences in various industries.

AR Gaming Platform

AR gaming platforms refer to Augmented Reality (AR) gaming systems that integrate digital elements and information into the user’s real-world environment. These platforms create an immersive and interactive experience by overlaying virtual objects, characters, or data onto the physical world using cameras, sensors, and displays.

There are several types of AR gaming platforms, including mobile apps, wearable devices, and console-based systems. Some popular examples include:

  1. Mobile AR gaming apps: These games use smartphones or tablets as the primary device for rendering AR content. The device’s camera captures the real-world environment while the app overlays digital elements onto the screen. Pokémon GO, Ingress, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite are popular examples of mobile AR games.
  2. Wearable AR devices: These systems use smart glasses, headsets, or other wearables to project virtual content directly onto the user’s field of view. Devices such as the Microsoft HoloLens, Magic Leap One, and Nreal Light offer gaming experiences that are more immersive than mobile apps.
  3. Console-based AR gaming: Some gaming consoles, like the Nintendo 3DS, have integrated AR features that allow users to play games using physical cards or markers. These consoles use built-in cameras to detect the real-world environment and overlay digital content accordingly.

AR gaming platforms have gained popularity due to their ability to offer engaging and interactive experiences that blend the digital and physical worlds. As technology continues to advance, it is expected that AR gaming will become even more widespread and integrated into various aspects of daily life.

Examples of popular AR gaming platforms include:

  • Mobile AR gaming app: Pokémon GO – Niantic. Pokémon GO is a location-based AR mobile game developed by Niantic in collaboration with The Pokémon Company. Players use their smartphones to explore their real-world surroundings in search of virtual Pokémon, which are overlaid onto the physical environment using the device’s camera and GPS capabilities. The game encourages exploration and social interaction as players visit designated landmarks called PokéStops and Gyms to collect items and battle other Pokémon.
  • Wearable AR device: Nreal Light is a pair of consumer-focused augmented reality (AR) smart glasses. These glasses are designed to be lightweight and comfortable, offering an immersive AR experience by projecting digital content onto the user’s field of view. The Nreal Light glasses connect to a compatible smartphone, which serves as the computing and processing power for the AR experiences.
  • Console-based AR gaming: Nintendo 3DS – Nintendo Co. The Nintendo 3DS is a handheld gaming console that features a glasses-free 3D display and built-in cameras for capturing the real-world environment. The console includes AR capabilities through the use of physical AR cards, which are recognized by the device’s cameras. One of the bundled games, AR Games, uses these cards to create interactive experiences, such as shooting targets, fishing, or playing with virtual characters that appear on the cards when viewed through the console’s screen.

AR Education and Training Software

AR Education and Training Software refers to augmented reality applications specifically designed to enhance learning and skill development in various domains. By superimposing digital information and interactive elements onto the physical world, AR education and training software can create immersive, context-aware experiences that facilitate deeper understanding and improved retention of knowledge.

The following key aspects characterize AR education and training software:

  • Interactive Learning Content: AR education and training software enables the creation of dynamic, interactive learning materials that engage learners and promote active participation. By overlaying digital content such as 3D models, animations, and annotations onto real-world objects and environments, AR applications can provide learners with a richer, more intuitive understanding of complex concepts and processes.
  • Personalized Learning Experiences: AR education and training software can adapt to individual learners’ needs and preferences, offering personalized learning pathways and feedback. This adaptability allows for customized instruction that caters to each learner’s unique strengths and weaknesses, ultimately resulting in more effective skill development and knowledge retention.
  • Collaborative Learning: Many AR education and training applications support real-time collaboration, enabling learners and instructors to work together in a shared virtual space. This collaborative environment fosters peer-to-peer learning, group problem-solving, and open communication, leading to a more engaging and productive educational experience.
  • Immersive Training Simulations: AR education and training software can create realistic, immersive simulations that allow learners to practice skills and apply knowledge in a safe, controlled environment. By simulating real-world scenarios and providing instant feedback on performance, AR training applications can help learners develop practical skills and gain valuable experience without the risks associated with real-world practice.
  • Performance Tracking and Analytics: AR education and training software often includes built-in tracking and analytics features that monitor learners’ progress and performance throughout the learning process. This data can be used to identify areas for improvement, tailor instructional content, and measure the effectiveness of AR-based learning interventions.

Examples include:

  • Lifeliqe: Lifeliqe is visually engaging and interactive. The platform’s extensive content library and user-friendly interface demonstrate its potential in the AR education market for SMBs.
  • EON Reality: The start-up’s comprehensive platform, EON-XR, offers a versatile range of tools for creating and experiencing AR content. This indicates significant potential for growth and impact in the SMB market.
  • zSpace: zSpace has a unique approach to combining AR and VR elements for immersive learning experiences. The platform’s focus on hands-on education and its range of applications for various subjects, suggests substantial potential for growth and influence among SMBs.

AR Retail and E-commerce Software:

AR Retail and E-commerce Software encompass augmented reality applications specifically designed to enhance shopping experiences and streamline operations in the retail and e-commerce sectors. By integrating digital content with real-world environments, AR retail and e-commerce software can provide immersive, interactive experiences that bridge the gap between online and offline shopping.

The following key aspects characterize AR retail and e-commerce software:

  • Virtual Try-Ons: AR retail and e-commerce software enable customers to virtually try on products, such as clothing, accessories, and makeup, using real-time digital overlays on their device’s camera feed. This feature allows customers to visualize how products will look on them, reducing the uncertainty associated with online shopping and increasing the likelihood of a purchase.
  • Product Visualization: AR applications can overlay digital 3D models of products onto the user’s physical environment, allowing customers to visualize items in their intended context. This feature is particularly useful for products such as furniture, home decor, and electronics, as customers can see how items will fit within their space and match their existing style.
  • Interactive Store Navigation: AR retail software can enhance in-store experiences by providing customers with interactive navigation and wayfinding tools. By overlaying digital directions and information onto the user’s view of the store, AR navigation features can guide customers to specific products or departments, improving overall shopping efficiency and satisfaction.
  • Personalized Recommendations: AR retail and e-commerce software can utilize customer data and preferences to deliver personalized product recommendations through digital overlays. This targeted approach to product suggestions can help retailers upsell and cross-sell items, increasing sales and enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • In-Store AR Marketing: AR retail software can be used to create engaging, interactive marketing experiences within physical retail spaces. AR marketing campaigns can capture customer attention and drive brand engagement by overlaying digital content, such as promotional materials, product information, or interactive games, onto in-store displays and signage.

Examples include:

  • Obsess: Obsess is a pioneering AR start-up that specializes in creating immersive and interactive virtual shopping experiences. The platform helps brands and retailers enhance customer engagement and drive sales.
  • Ocavu: Ocavu is an AR Retail and E-commerce start-up that focuses on product visualization and virtual try-on solutions. The platform lets customers preview items in their environment, facilitating better purchase decisions with its user-friendly interface and practical applications.
  • Sayduck: Sayduck is an innovative AR Retail and E-commerce Software start-up that offers a platform for 3D product visualization and virtual try-on. The platform enables retailers to create engaging product experiences, helping customers make informed purchasing decisions.

AR Remote Collaboration and Communication Software

AR Remote Collaboration and Communication Software refers to augmented reality applications designed to facilitate teamwork, communication, and problem-solving across distributed teams and locations. By overlaying digital content and interactive elements onto the physical world, AR remote collaboration and communication software can create immersive, context-aware experiences that promote efficient and productive collaboration, regardless of geographical boundaries. Key aspects of AR remote collaboration and communication software include:

  • Shared Virtual Workspace: AR remote collaboration software provides a shared virtual workspace where team members can interact with digital content, such as 3D models, documents, and multimedia assets. By enabling real-time collaboration within a unified virtual environment, AR applications can help teams work together more effectively, even when physically separated.
  • Real-Time Annotations and Feedback: AR communication software allows users to provide real-time feedback and annotations on digital content and physical objects, fostering clear communication and seamless collaboration. This feature is particularly valuable in design, engineering, and construction industries, where precise communication and shared understanding are crucial for project success.
  • Video Conferencing with AR Overlays: AR remote collaboration and communication software can integrate with existing video conferencing tools, enhancing traditional video calls with AR overlays and interactive elements. This integration enables team members to engage in more immersive and productive discussions, as they can visualize and manipulate shared digital content within the context of their video call.
  • Spatial Audio and Voice Communication: Many AR remote collaboration applications incorporate spatial audio and voice communication features, providing users with a more immersive and natural interaction experience. Spatial audio allows users to perceive the direction and distance of sounds in the virtual environment, while voice communication enables hands-free, real-time discussions among team members.
  • Cross-Device Compatibility: AR remote collaboration and communication software is often designed to be compatible with a range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and dedicated AR headsets. This cross-device compatibility ensures that teams can access and participate in collaborative AR experiences, regardless of their specific hardware and platform preferences.

Examples include:

  • MeetinVR: MeetinVR is a leading AR remote collaboration platform that offers immersive and interactive virtual meeting spaces. The platform provides tools for presentations, brainstorming, and team collaboration, enhancing productivity and communication.
  • Glue: Glue is an AR remote collaboration and communication software that enables teams to work together in shared virtual spaces. The platform offers a range of tools for meetings, workshops, and design reviews, fostering better communication and collaboration.
  • Streem: Streem is an innovative AR remote collaboration platform that focuses on providing remote assistance and communication solutions. The platform combines video, AR, and AI to enable professionals to offer real-time support and guidance to customers.

You might be wondering what informed our ranking for these augmented reality software options. Our ranking is based on a comprehensive analysis of various factors, including ease of use, features, scalability, and pricing. We’ve also considered customer reviews and the overall reputation of each platform within the industry.

We’ve extensively researched each software option to provide you with an accurate and unbiased evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you make an informed decision when selecting the best-augmented reality software for your SMB.

FAQs: Augmented Reality Solutions for SMBs

How can small businesses use augmented reality?

  • Small businesses can use augmented reality (AR) to enhance customer experiences, improve marketing efforts, streamline workflows, and facilitate employee training. AR can be implemented in various industries, such as retail, education, healthcare, and manufacturing, to provide immersive, interactive, and engaging experiences that drive customer engagement and increase overall efficiency.

How to make augmented reality applications for your business?

To create augmented reality applications for your business, you can follow these steps:

  • Identify your goals: Define the objectives of your AR application, such as increasing sales, improving customer experiences, or enhancing employee training.
  • Choose the right platform: Select an AR development platform or SDK that meets your requirements and budget. Some popular options include Unity MARS, 8th Wall, and EasyAR. 
  • Hire a developer or develop in-house: Depending on your technical expertise and resources, you can either hire a professional AR developer or build the application in-house. 
  • Develop the content: Create the 3D models, animations, and interactions required for your AR application. 
  • Test and refine: Test your AR application across various devices and environments, and make necessary adjustments to optimize performance.
  • Launch and promote: Release and promote your AR application through marketing channels relevant to your target audience.

Is it possible to create augmented reality for a website?

  • Yes, creating augmented reality for a website using WebAR technology is possible. WebAR allows users to experience AR content directly in their web browsers without the need to download a separate app. This technology is compatible with most modern smartphones and web browsers, making it an accessible option for delivering AR experiences to a broad audience.

What is the difference between WebAR and app AR?

  • WebAR refers to augmented reality experiences that can be accessed through a web browser without the need for a dedicated app. In contrast, app AR requires users to download and install an application on their devices to access AR content. While WebAR offers convenience and broader accessibility, app AR may provide more advanced features and better performance, depending on the specific use case and requirements.

What is the difference between AR & VR?

  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are both immersive technologies but differ in how they present digital content. AR overlays digital information or objects onto the user’s real-world environment, enhancing their perception of reality. In contrast, VR creates an entirely virtual environment, immersing users in a digital world separate from their physical surroundings. AR typically require

Conclusion / Wrapping Up

In conclusion, Augmented Reality (AR) solutions have become essential for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to drive growth, enhance customer experiences, and streamline operations. Top AR development platforms and SDKs, such as Unity MARS, SketchFab, and Kudan, empower SMBs to create customized AR applications tailored to their unique needs. For businesses in the gaming industry, Pokémon GO, Nreal Light, and Nintendo 3DS offer cutting-edge AR gaming software to captivate and engage users.

The education and training sector also benefits from innovative AR solutions like Lifeliqe, EON Reality, and zSpace, which facilitate immersive learning experiences and improve knowledge retention. In the retail and e-commerce space, Obsess, Ocavu, and Sayduck provide powerful AR platforms to revolutionize the shopping experience through virtual try-ons and 3D product visualization.

Lastly, AR remote collaboration and communication software like MeetinVR, Glue, and Streem are transforming how teams work together, bridging the gap between physical and digital workspaces. By leveraging these robust AR solutions, SMBs across various industries can stay competitive and harness the potential of augmented reality to drive innovation and success in their respective markets.

Project Manager (PMP), Interior Designer and 3D visualizer. Member of the Project Management Institute - Netherlands Chapter.

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