A Beginner’s guide to Augmented Reality: Best AR SDK review

Have you ever dreamed of making your own AR app? But you don’t know how to start? So, let’s see our massive investigation of AR SDK. This article will help you increase your knowledge on Unity 3D and AR apps development. Using the following augmented reality frameworks and source codes let’s start your AR app right now!

Vuforia

Vuforia is one of the most popular platforms to help you work with augmented reality technology.

Supported platforms: Android, iOS, UWP and Unity Editor.

The software implements the following functionalities: recognition of the different types of visual objects (a box, cylinder, plane), text and environments recognition, VuMark (a combination of picture and QR-code). Also, using Vuforia Object Scanner, you can scan and create object targets. The recognition process can be implemented using the database (local or cloud storage). Unity plugin is simple to integrate and very powerful.

All plugins and functionalities of the platform are free to use but include the Vuforia watermarks. The limitations just relate to the number of VuMark and the number of Cloud recognition. Paid plan without watermarks and with a certain number of recos costs 99$ per month.

 

Get source code and explore Vuforia

EasyAR

EasyAR is a free and easy to use alternative to Vuforia.

Supported platforms: Android, iOS, UWP, Windows, Mac and Unity Editor.

The latest version of EasyAR (1.3.1) supports the image recognition only. Version 2.0 will include the following features:

  • 3D Object Recognition
  • Environment perception
  • Cloud Recognition
  • Smart Glass Solution
  • App Cloud Packaging

The library is completely free. To start your work with EasyAR, you only need to register the account and to generate the plugin’s key of your Bundle ID. EasyAR is quite easy to integrate. Documentation and examples are intuitively understandable.

Get Source code and reference to EasyAR

Wikitude

Supported platforms: Android, iOS, Smart Glasses.

Recently Wikitude released the latest version of powerful SLAM solution for augmented reality apps: Wikitude SDK 6.

Wikitude SDK 6. implements the following functionalities: image recognition & tracking(combines top-notch image recognition and tracking), 3D tracking technology (SLAM-based), GEO Data (improved working with geo-referenced data), Cloud recognition (allows to save the image databases in Cloud for identification).

Wikitude SDK 6 provides also the additional features:

  • Improved Extended Tracking
  • Advanced camera options
  • Positioning

Wikitude offers the opportunity to try the free trial version with watermark and the full power of the platform. The cost of the Wikitude SDK 6 starts from 1990€.

Unity plugin provides tools to create a database of images and 3D objects. It does not work with the Unity Editor, which complicates the development process.

Get Source code and see Wikitude

ARToolKit

ARtoolKIt is an open source tracking library for augmented reality.

Supported platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, Mac OS and Smart Glasses.

ARtoolKit implements the following functionalities:

  • Single-camera or stereo-camera camera position/orientation tracking.
  • Tracking of simple black squares
  • Tracking of planar images
  • Camera calibration and optical stereo calibration
  • Plugins for Unity and OpenSceneGraph
  • Optical head-mounted display support
  • Free and open source software
  • Fast enough for real time AR applications

Variety of functions makes it difficult to integrate the library and takes more time to explore all options and settings.

Get Source code and look at ARToolKit

Kudan

According to reviews and comparisons of efficiency, Kudan is the main rival of Vuforia.

Supported platforms: Android, iOS.

Using the SLAM technology Kudan allows to recognize the simple images and 3D objects and provides easy generation of the database in the Unity Editor.

Kudan also has some disadvantages: Crash Editor (sometimes it is the main reason of apps crashing on devices). There are also the difficulties with the test license key installation (not always picks up the key).

The free version is only for application testing. The cost of a license is 1230 $. The Kudan is simple to integrate, but on the other side, the problems with Unity Editor complicate the development process.

Get Source code and see Kudan

Maxst

Supported platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS.

Maxst offers two different tools for image and environments recognition. The generation of a database is online via Tracking Manager. To scan 3D objects are used applications for Android and IOS. In Unity Editor Maxst only works with the 32-bit version.

The free version differs from paid only by a watermark. PRO version cost 999$. The library is very easy to use and in integration. The official website has full and easy to understand documentation.

Get Source code and explore Maxst

Xzimg

Xzimg provides three products to work with AR based applications. (Augmented Face, Augmented Vision і Magic Face).

  • Xzimg Augmented Face recognizes and tracks faces with Unity
  • Xzimg Augmented Vision recognizes and tracks planar images with Unity
  • Xzimg Magic Face is for face replacement and make-up applications

Supported platforms: PC, Android, iOS, Windows, WebGL.

Xzimg allows the recognizion of simple images and black&white markers. Generation of the database is local in the Unity Editor. Free trial version is only available for demonstration (inverts the color and reverses the image). Paid version includes all possibilities of the platform and costs 1600€.

Get Source code and see Xzimg

NyARToolkit

NyARToolkit Augmented reality library that based on ARToolKit.

Supported platforms: Android, iOS.

Currently used only for identification and tracking images. It is a simplified version of ARToolKit and uses the same web tool for generating the database as ARToolKit. The library is simple to integrate, but the English version is not available.

Get source code and look at NyARToolkit

Comments

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t even know about EasyAR. This list is really good. Thanks for writing it up!

  • Anonymous

    Here is a journal you might find to be a useful way of interacting with the pedagogy community, where you might demonstrate the importance of AR in the actual process of higher education in the liberal arts, let alone all the other areas where AR and rhetoric meet: http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/about.html

  • Anonymous

    A great list and very nicely done. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Glaring omission of The Zappar SDK and ZapWorks. It’s the lightest at only 3MB, and isn’t Unity reliant. ZapWorks Studio allows you to code and script, tap directly into mobile sensors and run 3D animations unbundled on timelines. Also mobile VR enabled. Much faster, lighter and easier way to deploy AR + VR in your own branded app.

  • Anonymous

    Great Job. It really helps a lot

  • Thanks for nice words