Top 10: Augmented Reality (AR) Platforms

With virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) quickly rising in the global technology market, AI Magazine considers some of the leading AR platforms

Augmented reality (AR) is best described as an interactive experience that enhances the real world with computer-generated content. 

Using software, apps and hardware such as AR glasses, AR is able to overlay digital content onto real-life environments and objects. Already in 2024, plenty of companies like Apple are entering the VR/AR market with new headsets and tools that allow the user to experience a new form of human and computer interaction.

With this in mind, AI Magazine considers some of the leading AR platforms committed to harnessing the latest technologies.

10. Sketchfab

Key facts
  • 5m+ 3D models
  • 10m+ registered users
  • 6m+ unique monthly visitors
  • 2bn+ total page views since launch

Sketchfab is described as empowering a new era of creativity by making it easy for anyone to publish and find 3D content online. The platform allows for users to publish, share, discover, buy and sell 3D, VR and AR content. 

It also provides a viewer based on WebGL and WebXR technologies that allows users to display 3D models on the web that can be viewed on any mobile browser, desktop browser or Virtual Reality headset. The platform supports VR and AR on compatible software.

9. Niantic

Originally formed as Niantic Labs in 2010 as an internal start-up within Google, Niantic became an independent private company in 2015 after splitting from Alphabet Inc. With US$35m in Series-A funding from The Pokémon Company Group, Google, and Nintendo, Niantic announced the development of augmented reality game, Pokémon GO. The platform became an overnight success and still amasses more than 80 million users.

Niantic is also keen to support real-world communities with the power of AR. It has created several partnerships with non-profits worldwide to encourage and support community engagement through AR experiences.

8. ARToolKit

artoolkitX is an open source project that has been created to continue support for the ARToolKit community and to ensure that future generations of augmented reality developers will have access to, and understanding of, the underlying algorithms that drive this innovative technology. 

The project is run by the core team that has been responsible for all ARToolKit development for the last decade and is funded by Ethar, Inc., a leading AR services provider. It was first released as an open source project in 2001 until it was sold in 2015.

7. Adobe Aero

Adobe Aero is an AR authoring and publishing tool by Adobe Inc. on Creative Cloud. It is an intuitive way to build, view and share robust immersive storytelling experiences in mobile AR. It is available on iOS and as a public beta for desktop on macOS and Windows.

The authoring and viewing platform makes it easier for designers and developers to design, collaborate and publish interactive immersive experiences in the real world. It is free to use and provides a clear and straightforward interface that is simple to utilise.

6. Wikitude

Key facts
  • 150 000+ registered AR Developers
  • 40,000+ AR apps
  • 180 countries

Wikitude is a mobile AR technology provider based in Salzburg, Austria. Founded in 2008, the platform initially focused on providing location-based augmented reality experiences through the Wikitude World Browser App. Its AR offers iOS, Android and Smart Glasses apps with image and object tracking, instant tracking (SLAM) and Geo AR, along with other capabilities.

The Wikitude app pioneered the use of a location-based approach in AR. In September 2021, Wikitude was acquired by Qualcomm and Wikitude services will shut down completely in September 2024.

5. Unity by Unity Technologies

Unity provides powerful tools to make rich and deeply engaging AR experiences that intelligently interact with the real world. It has custom resources and an industry-leading software development platform that pairs tools purpose-built for AR creators. It is used across a range of industries, including automotive, manufacturing, government, architecture, energy and retail.

In addition, its unified workflow extends across devices to allow the user to focus on pushing the boundaries of their imagination. Unity’s AR Foundation is a cross-platform framework that allows the user to write AR experiences and build for either Android or iOS devices.

4. NVIDIA XR Suite

NVIDIA solutions use its RTX GPUs and RTX Virtual Workstation (vWS) to enable extended reality (XR) applications to Android and iOS devices. In particular, its CloudXR platform works to maximise quality and frame rates to power next-level VR/AR experiences.

CloudXR allows the user to stream stunning VR/AR experiences from any OpenVR application. Users can also run VR/AR experiences from a remote server across 5G and WiFi networks to any device, while embracing the freedom to move without wires.

3. Apple’s Reality Kit

Apple is fast-developing its AR capabilities, particularly with the imminent release of its Vision Pro headset. Its Reality Kit was designed to offer developers greater control over their AR creations, making development faster and easier. 

RealityKit is also an AR-first 3D framework that leverages ARKit to seamlessly integrate virtual objects into the real world. It blends virtual virtual content with the real world using realistic, physically based materials, environment reflections, grounding shadows, camera noise and motion blur to make virtual content nearly indistinguishable from reality.

2. MetaSpark by Meta

The MetaSpark Studio platform offers the user flexible tooling to easily build and share AR experiences at scale. Users can start developing from templates or build their own custom AR experiences with code.

It is easy to build interactive AR experiences with the platform, allowing for target tracking, depth mapping, occlusion and audio and haptic integrations. Users can join a community of more than 100,000 creators, become certified through Meta, or make use of Meta Spark AR Creation Training to learn how to use the tools and techniques in Meta Spark Studio to build AR effects.

1. Google ARCore

ARCore is Google’s augmented reality SDK offering cross-platform APIs to build new immersive experiences on Android, iOS, Unity, and Web. It is designed to transform the way that people experience the world via a contextual understanding about people, places and things.

The AR platform also enables the user to seamlessly blend physical and digital worlds using easy to integrate workflows and Google’s learned understanding of the world through Google Maps.

The fundamentals of the platform include motion tracking, anchors, an environmental understanding and depth understanding and light estimation.

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