An Introduction to WebAR
Posted By : Praveen Sihag | 07-Dec-2020
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality means the superimposition of computer-generated images with real-world objects to create an interactive experience. AR links the virtual world with the real world where users can interact with this enhanced environment in real-time.
AR on Web
WebAR refers to augmented reality experiences on a web browser rather than an app, i.e. for webAR you just need a smartphone and an internet connection. So webAR saves you from downloading any app on your phone for experiencing AR. Currently, webAR does not possess the complete potential of AR and it is still a work in progress.
Benefits of webAR
As already mentioned above, the most significant benefit of WebAR is not downloading any external application on your device to experience AR. WebAR makes it more immediately accessible and saves people's time and data. WebAR can run on most browsers & devices which is not possible on native AR apps as they require certain specifications of the device. Thus webAR can reach to a higher number of users easily. WebAR can be combined with a progressive web app to provide a native AR app look & feel.
Limitations of webAR
WebAR is still in development so there are limits. Native AR apps simply have better performance than webAR. A native AR app can access all of a device's capabilities and provide better interactivity and better animations. Also, webAR does not support marker-less tracking right now.
Types of webAR
According to target detection, webAR has three types - Marker-based, Markerless & location-based.
Marker-based webAR lets you scan physical images using a camera which is called markers. 3D models, videos, or other images can be rendered on these markers. Users can interact with these AR objects. Marker-based webAR applications can be developed using AR.js, AFrame, Thress.js, etc. The main limitation of marker-based webAR is that you have to use markers, it can't detect surfaces like the way markerless AR does. Markers are trained before used in webAR app.
Markerless webAR detects plain surfaces like floor, wall, table etc and then renders 3D models & videos over them. Markerless webAR does not need any markers so it is more popular than marker-based AR. But right now markerless webAR is not ready for building AR applications for end-users. For developers, there are experimental browsers, for android devices WebARonARCore and for iOS devices WebARonARKit. Three.ar.js can be used for developing markerless webAR applications.
Location-based webAR does not need any markers to render virtual objects, it uses Geographic coordinates to locate its target. It is a kind of markerless AR but uses GPS to identify the current location. Pokemon Go is a classic example of location-based AR.
WebAR has so much potential but it is still in development phase, AR performance is just better in apps. Developers are finding new possibilites that can offer users a far better experience than they currently have. Marker-based webAR apps can be now easily developed.
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