Augmented reality is entering deeper and deeper into our everyday life and is becoming an integral part of business, science and art. Striving to be in trend, large companies present their products with its help, museums and exhibitions are transferred to the virtual space using it. Another reason to get to know augmented reality better is the pandemic, which in 2020 has become a key event in the life of hundreds of countries. Famous brands worked online, and many of them have not missed the opportunity to show their customers something completely new. Developers chose Web AR as a tool for a reason.
Web AR history
Modern smartphones are as powerful as computers and laptops of the past decade. Therefore, the priority in developing Web AR at the moment is precisely the mobile versions of objects integrated in our reality. But this was not always the case. Previously, developers focused on the PC, which somewhat limited the creativity borders. After all, people rarely take a heavy and not too mobile device with them. This means that they can only access the content in the classical way: using the link.
But the essence of augmented reality in a browser lies precisely in the fact that the technology can be used without installing other apps by scanning, for example, a marker on the street or in a cafe. This is why developers today devote so much time to creating content for smartphones. 8th Wall is one of the latest developments which allows to implement online Web AR. Another new tool is Augmania; with its help you can quickly launch your page with augmented reality objects without deep knowledge in this area.
Google has created two experimental browsers specially for introduction of new technologies. WebARonARCore and WebARonARKit were developed by its experts for Android and iOS. Both products have not been officially released yet.
Web AR features
Browser augmented reality for smartphones has a number of features that distinguish it from similar content in special apps.
- No special applications are needed for Web AR. A regular browser is enough.
- It is easy to set up marketing analytics. By connecting the website to services that collect statistics, it is convenient to receive geographic coordinates, demographic characteristics and other information about users.
- Ability to add a CTA button. It is extremely important for marketing websites to place it so that the user can add contact information or place an order after considering the offer.
- Rich content. Browser augmented reality for tablets and smartphones supports 2D and 3D graphics, animation and other formats.
- Image marker tracking. If a QR code is selected as an activator or just a picture on a flat surface, the device can easily read it.
- Various activation ways. Web AR can be marker and markerless, attached to geolocation, it can also be hidden in a direct link.
- Game content. Even simple games with simple mechanics, transferred into augmented reality, delight the website visitor.
- Cross-platform. You can view content that complements our usual reality using any modern smartphone model.
Examples of implementing augmented reality in the web space
Today, there are hundreds of examples how AR is used in browsers to promote products or services, present art exhibitions, and educate schoolchildren and students.
A good example of using Web AR to promote products is a virtual storefront. Shopify AR makes it easy to bring your favorite product to your desk or place it in the corner of your room. This solution is perfect for owners of furniture stores, decor and household appliances shops.
L’Oreal’s YouCam service is designed to help the customers to “try on” makeup before purchasing. By using a smartphone instead of a mirror, they can immediately understand if a new lipstick or eyeshadow is right for them. After the introduction of the online service, the company’s sales in the countries where it is used have grown significantly.
In the LEGO store, small customers can hunt a ghost. To do this, they do not need to download a special app – just visit the trading floor. Regardless of the complexity of the game itself, it becomes especially exciting if presented with the help of modern technology. Below there is a collection of augmented reality in the web space from 8th Wall.
Browser AR is not just for advertising purposes. It is often used in warehouses, which allows workers to better navigate the assortment, and authorities to save on physical markers indicating the purpose of a particular shelf. An interactive area map is a good option for innovation usage to make life easier for citizens.
When developing augmented reality in the web space, experts often face two of the most pressing problems:
- Compatibility. Not every mobile device has special sensors. And some browsers on smartphones do not have Sensors API. It is also difficult to control compatibility since users have special platform to leave feedback.
Limited access to AR-enabled camera. Due to the features of such cameras, calculations are performed over the operating system. This can lead to slowdown when loading content.
Web AR development prospects
Augmented reality for the browser is the most promising when compared with its use within individual apps. The latter are useful in areas such as science, design, architecture and art. It is much more convenient to use a regular web browser to view 3D and 2D models for entertainment or sales content.
Seeing this trend, developers are spending more and more time creating and improving tools that would make AR more available to the user. In the future, we are waiting for optimized, convenient and intuitive browsers versions of familiar apps.
Augmented reality in a smartphone browser is the most promising direction. Since few people open special apps a second time, and many completely remove them after a single use, Web AR becomes a much more profitable option from an economic point of view. Using it to create entertainment, educational and informational content, many large companies will be able to increase user interest in their products and services.