Basic Tips on Designing for Mobile Augmented Reality

The center of gravity for 3D application design and development had successfully shifted last year with the launch of Google and Apple’s Augmented Reality platforms. Before the launch of these AR platforms, the focus was on virtual reality headsets and use cases that leaned more towards gaming, architecture, filmmaking.

Designing for mobile augmented reality for a mobile platform offers great new ways to explore both augmented reality and mobile apps.The actual experience of having the real world inflated with the help of digital overlay is what augmented reality is all about. For instance, an AR app on your smartphone will show you an object that is situated in a scene.

This is done using your camera feed. Computer vision and camera are two things that support AR. This is much different from virtual reality as it involved wearing a headset and entering into an entirely digital world.

Creating an Object and Considerations

In AR, you will not be required to create an entire scene yourself the way you do in VR because it is basically an overlay onto the real world. Here, what you can do is, create a handful of objects that can be later integrated into the real world scene. You can also take advantage of things like background and lighting which are already present, so you will not have to work on it. This allows you to focus entirely on the objects at hand and not worry about the backdrop.

But these objects will have to make sense in the real world. They will have to lie flat to take up a surface or occupy a certain amount of space. The thing with world-scale AR is that the experience has to be properly measured and graded in order to present something at a specific latitude-longitude level. Any object that doesn’t align with the real world will look out of place. This will require a lot of testing. For example, when you place an object on a map it can be small, but if you place it on the ground it can be shown to be bigger comparatively.

Starting an AR Session

For an AR experience to work, your camera phone will need to get a proper look and capture the feel of the surroundings first. When you start an AR session on your phone, it requires steady movement with a view of the spot you are trying to place the object in. A lot of your users will be using AR for the first time with your app. So you will need to guide them. Ask them to start a session in an environment that has proper lighting and keep the camera steady and then slowly move it.

Dimension Shift

When you are doing a session, there are feature points you must look out for. Those are the points where the camera captures the distinct features present in the environment. Even after the scene is calibrated, it will need to be adjusted. Users should be allowed to make minor adjustments here and there. This is what makes AR engaging.

AR Interactions

AR interactions in an app can be similar to the ones used in a 2D app. You can also allow the users to control the camera and completely and facilitate interaction this way. The surface or the map will be designed accordingly. Mobile experiences, in general, do not allow a great degree of control, so users don’t really expect it.

Handling UI and Text

Handling UI and text can be a bit tricky. Some apps will feature too much of text sometimes. People are excited to enter the AR experience and having a lot of text will only act as a distraction or hurdle. So the elements can either be plain texts, 2D or 3D objects. 3D UI elements help in the way that they mark the potential of 3D.

A Lot To Explore

AR is still something that is relatively new and there is a lot that needs to be explored in this field. All the tips mentioned above in the article are a good way to get your hands on AR and work out your own ways to create an AR app and integrate basic elements. More can be learned further while developing at later stages. Mobile augmented reality has lots of scope and is seeking your attention.

Keval Padia
Keval Padia is the founder & CEO of Nimblechapps, a fast-growing mobile game development company. The current innovation and updates of the field lures him to express his views and thoughts on certain topics.