Augmented reality creation platform Blippar announced today that it has integrated its WebAR software development kit into Unity, the software platform that half the world’s games and many of its 3D experiences are built on. The promise: easier, faster, and more accessible augmented reality experiences available for five billion people on the planet.
With no tech required other than the smartphone they hold in their hands.
“At the moment, you have too many walled gardens, you have too many ways of building that are not interoperable,” Blippar CEO Faisal Galaria told me in an interview on the TechFirst podcast. “We’ve built a plug-in that … allows people [who] have built on Unity to be able to take their AR experience and push that directly into the mobile browser so that no app is required from the end user in order to be able to use that AR experience.”
A VR headset
Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash
The point is obvious.
Is augmented reality only available through a $3,000 Hololens, or a rumored $2,000 Apple pair of smart glasses, or something like a potential $1,000 Oculus Quest Pro? Or can it be made simple, accessible, and practical for billions? Blippar is betting on the latter, while not discounting the eventual importance of the former.
Meanwhile, it’s making web-based augmented reality easier to create.
Blippar says its WebAR tool makes it easy to build and share complex, immersive AR experiences.
The resulting code runs in nothing more than a web browser like Safari or Chrome on a mobile device, thanks to Apple’s built-in ARKit software and Google’s provided ARCore, both of which provide the fundamental technology shipped in modern mobile operating systems to make augmented reality function.
“We think about AR glasses being a great end state to aim at,” Galaria says. “But just like not every household today has a games console, not every household in the near future is going to have a set of AR glasses.”
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The Unity integration is downloadable via the company’s website and delivers both the creation of fully immersive and realistic surface and marker tracking web AR experiences, Blippar says, and the ability to publish pre-built Unity projects, along with any interactivity, 3D models, animations, and effects to the web.
All of the creations, the company says, will not only work on mobile browsers but will also work in today’s dominant social platforms, including Snapchat, Facebook, Whatsapp, and WeChat.
The result, says Galaria, is that “as long as your smartphone is running, has a browser, has a camera, has a good processor, and a good quality screen, you can already start using AR today.”
The future holds more, of course, and this web-focused strategy doesn’t mean lack of compatibility with more immersive augmented reality platforms for even full virtual reality systems. Where Blippar says this will be most useful now, however, is in digital marketing, ads, fashion — think augmented reality clothing try-ons — design and architecture — such as placing a sofa or chair virtually in your home — and education.
The software is available today.
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