How Much Does It Cost to Build an Augmented Reality App?
Virtual reality offers truly daunting prospects to businessmen. Imagine: you need a sofa... but here's the question: how would it look in your room? It's very easy to find out the answer if the furniture store has its own VR or AR application. In this case, you should make a few taps, and your device's screen will display the desired picture, so you'll see whether the desired piece of furniture fits into your interior... and therefore, you'll buy the item more readily. Impressive? But it’s just one of the examples of using AR technology as an effective business tool. AR changes our world for the better and covers a wide range of areas including e-commerce, information environment, user behavior. Among other things, custom Augmented Reality apps and experiences are a great way to maximize your conversions.
According to IDC, the world market of AR and VR technologies will have increased to $ 162 billion by 2020. Moreover, as Digi-Capital, the consulting company, claims, the AR market is growing four times faster than VR is doing.
So, it's time to think about the introduction of these technologies into your own business processes. But how much does an AR app cost? We'll try to answer your question and, in addition, explain all the details of the augmented reality app development.
What is AR?
The VR and AR concepts are not entirely new - the first funny Virtual Reality helmets appeared in the 60s of the XX century, and elements of augmented reality were developed in the 90's. However, only now, in the second decade of the 21st century, computer powers have reached such a high level that it is time to reflect on the issue of the augmented reality app cost.
AR is a technology supplementing the surrounding world with images and information created by special technical means and improves the user's immediate environment through digital data.
How does AR work?
The general scheme to create augmented reality is this one:
- the optical scanner (camera) of the device identifies the image of the real object;
- the device software analyzes the resulting image and selects or calculates the visible augment corresponding to it;
- now the real image is being combined with its augment and outputted to the visualization device. So the augmented reality has been born.
The means to create augmented reality:
- mobile devices (tablets, cell phones);
- augmented reality glasses;
- TV (or computer screen);
- a game computer such as Kinect;
- technologies, useful if one wants to play AR in open space;
- special means (different simulators, medical equipment).
Since you are interested in the AR app development cost, we must pay attention to the first version of creating augmented reality (using a mobile device). In this case, the mobile phone camera transmits the captured image to the downloaded application. The program recognizes the image, selects the content associated with it (text, video, 3D-model), and displays the resulting picture on the device screen in such a way that you see the effect of the augmented reality.
Sometimes you can provide a user with a possibility to manage and adjust the AR object: scale or turn it (or something of the sort). Features of visualization of the augmented reality are limited only by the developers’ imagination and your budget: the more demanding your requests, the higher the AR app cost.
Classification of Augmented Reality Applications
There are two groups of AR applications:
- autonomic applications which are not designed to interact with the user to get extra information. As a rule, such services provide additional data about a real-world object;
- interactive applications which involve interaction with the user and enable him to select the type of data to be visualized. Also, a user can change the parameters and properties of virtual objects. Such systems require the presence of input devices, say, a touch screen of mobile devices or a computer mouse.
If we talk about the degree of mobility, then the systems of augmented reality can be divided into two types:
- stationary systems designed to work in one place;
- mobile systems intended to work in a dynamic mode and with different real-world objects.
All these factors somehow affect the augmented reality app development cost. As for the scope of such services, it is truly wide: games, animated illustrations, marketing campaigns… However, the topic deserves a more detailed discussion.
Who needs an augmented reality app development?
The promising nature of virtual reality and AR technologies is confirmed by the fact that giants like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are paying close attention to them, and Apple is allocating huge funds for development in the field of augmented reality.
AR technologies can be used in a variety of areas: in healthcare (patient diagnosis), student education, manufacturing (modeling and product design), e-commerce (it’s a good way to stimulate sales), etc.
In other words, applications with augmented reality would bring your communication with customers to a new level, and a better one. So even the highest AR app development cost is justified and would pay off, sooner or later.
#1. Entertainment industry
Speaking of the entertainment industry, we mean games in the first place (of course!). That's where there is room for imagination, that's where you can go bigger and provide really cool custom Augmented Reality apps and experiences.
The AR app called The Machines is particularly worth mentioning. The game is so beautiful that Apple showed it while demonstrating ARKit's capabilities at the presentation of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
The Machines is a multiplayer strategy in real-time. The essence is simple: we find a table, point the camera at it, and the device generates a steep post-apocalyptic location on its surface - a virtual battlefield. Next, the gamer should place his combat robots on such a map and start playing.
Games are definitely a promising area when it comes to AR, just remember that the augmented reality app cost is particularly high in this case. However, it’s not so difficult to attract users to a successful and exciting game that uses the latest AR technologies. So, you’ll return all the money spent, and with interest.
#2. Real estate and architecture
Augmented and virtual reality has significantly improved the quality of creation and testing of projects in the field of architecture, design, and construction.
Among other things, we should mention the popular ARki application available for any iOS / Android device. It integrates AR technology into the architecture, allowing you to create three-dimensional models with multiple levels of interactivity for both design projects and presentations. Using the app, you can put 3D models on existing two-dimensional floor plans.
If your business is also related to the construction or architecture area, think about the augmented reality app development too. Taking advantage of these AR technologies, you can significantly improve your business processes.
The main direction of the industrial use of AR technologies is the after-sales service of manufactured products. It can provide information about the operation of the device in real-time, and also serve as a step-by-step guide to repair and manage the product based on its 3D model.
In addition, augmented reality makes it possible to visually assess an industrial product, which has not been released yet. The procedure can be used to reconcile all the details with the client.
#4. Retail and E-commerce
If you earn using e-commerce, then the issue of AR app cost is not so crucial for you because even the largest financial investments in the AR feature would necessarily pay off.
Let us suppose you have an online jewelry store. Agree, it’d be smart of you to provide your customer with the possibility to try the ring on the finger (as an example) - virtually and without a necessity to visit your shop in the real world... Undoubtedly, such a visual expression would increase your sales.
A good example: the Magic Leap company has created the AR application which allows studying the desired product from all sides so that a shopper can see how a piece of furniture or appliances will look in the interior.
AR technologies have huge prospects in education too, for the process of studying new subjects is so much easier (and more pleasant) if you can get such great visual aids.
So, if you have an educational application, it would be useful to supplement it with the AR feature. Of course, the cost of the augmented reality app is quite high, but the result is worth it. In the end, the influx of new users will have increased by the factor of n (as well as your incomes).
#6. Advertising and marketing
More and more leading brands use augmented reality to attract additional audiences. And this is just the beginning! Imagine that in the future you'll be able to see only targeted advertisements, those which may potentially interest you: for example, when walking past a cafe, you’ll get actual information about its discounts or other offers.
If you want to advertise your product/service in the most effective way (so that your offer would immediately catch the customer's attention), augmented reality is your best assistant. It means you should definitely consider such an expenditure item as the AR app development cost.
In medicine, AR applications are no less in demand. Surgeons, by the way, have already found the use of Google Glass: they’re doing surgeries in these glasses which allow conducting videoconferences with colleagues and summoning the results of various analyzes by voice order.
The use of AR/VR technologies will help doctors see the organ under examination and monitor the dynamics of the process online. A start has been made, and all the prerequisites for evolution and upgrowth are obvious. So, it's time to think about the augmented reality app development.
Now it is fashionable to lead healthy lives, and a variety of fitness and healthcare applications have gained immense popularity. That's why it's becoming more difficult to stand out among competitors. So if you are faced with such a task, and you want to attract new customers to your app - use the AR technology.
By the by, Strava, a social fitness app, has also joined the AR boom. The service named Fitness AR which uses Strava's API allows athletes to visualize their path on a 3D map and mark places on it.
Benefits of augmented reality app development
AR contributes to the promotion of services and products, greatly increases user involvement in sales or entertainment, and creates an emotional connection between your brand and the consumer.
AR app development costs are justified because these unique technologies would allow you to...
- become a market leader. Customers will see that your business is keeping pace with the times.
- improve interaction with customers. AR applications are a technological bonus, which can become a competitive advantage for the company. This is a new and exciting experience that won’t leave users indifferent.
- expand marketing opportunities. The novelty, entertainment, and interactivity created by the augmented reality force people to share their experiences through social networks. Such a customer reaction will greatly increase your marketing opportunities.
So, the benefits of technology are quite clear, and the question of AR app costs should no longer frighten you. But there is still a danger of competition...
For many brands, the AR feature is an expensive and technologically complex one. But the situation has changed on September 12, 2017, when Apple introduced iOS 11 which simplifies and accelerates the process of augmented reality app development.
Brands, including Ikea, Wayfair, and Patrón Tequila, have already taken advantage of these great possibilities by introducing new AR applications or supplementing existing services with AR features. It's time to take up the lead.
The Ikea Place application allows a user to select the desired interior object from a catalog containing about 2,000 3D products based on the type of furniture or designer collections. Then a user can take advantage of the chatbot's help to place the chosen model in the environment correctly. Of course, the service needs access to the camera so that it can scan the floor in front of the user.
Among other things, the app makes it possible to virtually move furniture around the room, change the size of objects, and offers many other useful features. As you can see, Ikea thought out every detail in order to simplify the process of product selection as much as possible. The task was to recoup the augmented reality app costs and get profit. We are absolutely sure that this goal has been successfully achieved.
#2. GIPHY World
The application allows placing beautiful GIFs in the 3D space. Each AR scene gets a unique URL that can be shared with friends and edited.
The company has prepared a special set of animated images to use in augmented reality, but if you want, you can insert any picture from the site.
Undoubtedly, the owners of this service also asked themselves a question that you are worried about (how much does an AR app cost?). Fortunately, they decided the game was worth the candle, and now we can create and enjoy cool 3D scenes.
#3. CARROT Weather
CARROT Weather is a traditional weather application, which has completely changed with the introduction of augmented reality. Now, owners of devices with iOS 11 can see the current weather, weather forecast, and other necessary data in a beautiful 3D mode.
TapMeasure is an application, which measures various surfaces in augmented reality. With this tool, users can create a floor plan or even a 3D room model which is then available for export to SketchUP or to other services in CAD format.
And the augmented reality app development cost does not really matter, after all. Users’ll clearly appreciate such a service, so its owners’ll benefit anyway.
#5. Patron Tequila
The Patron Tequila company has built the free app Patrón Experience for promotional purposes. It offers users to create their own agave field on any flat surface. Then a distillery appears on the screen, and the barman tells the brand story and offers the tasting notes from the selected products. The very first day the application had received six five-star reviews in the App Store. So, the cost of the augmented reality app was worth it.
Aren't these examples of using AR technologies impressive? Then we turn to the key question, namely…
What is forming the AR app cost?
Let's look at factors that determine the augmented reality app development cost.
Of course, ideally, your application should work on all platforms and on all devices. However, in this case, the AR app development cost would be much higher. Therefore, it may be wiser to act gradually, step by step.
First, analyze your customer and answer the question: what type of device does he prefer? After that, hire an augmented reality app developer who’ll create your iOS or Android mobile service (both would be the best choice though you can always expand the coverage of your program later).
The rate of the augmented reality app development company
Since we’ve mentioned developers, let's take into account that it’s the most significant pricing factor. It all depends on the rate of specialists you’ve chosen. And the rate is affected by the location.
- USA and Canada: from $100 to $250 per hour
- Western Europe: from $80 to $150 per hour
- Eastern Europe: $25 to $100 per hour
- Asia (mostly India): usually up to $ 55 per hour
The application complexity
The more complex the AR-oriented service and the more features it has, the higher the augmented reality app cost. But what should you do if your budget is limited? A good option is to create an MVP model, at least for a start.
However, while simplifying the app functionality, do not overdo it, remember about the happy mean.
What must an AR application (regardless of its complexity) have?
- Intuitive interface. Not every user’ll understand how to use the AR application if the interface of the service is poorly designed.
- Stable work. The application should be programmed quite well to ensure that your customers get only positive emotions in the process of using the service.
- Quality 3d models. High-quality 3D models of your goods will increase the chances that a potential buyer’ll choose your product.
- Constant updates. An AR app should be constantly updated as new products and technologies are being developed.
All this affects the cost of the augmented reality app. The more complex the design and interface, the more money you’ll have to spend creating it. But it’s the case when saving isn't a wise decision.
Actual augmented reality app development cost
Let's take a closer look at the issue of pricing. It all depends on the hours spent on augmented reality app development, agree? Hence, we should analyze this very problem.
#1. Strategic analysis of the project
This is an important preparatory stage, which is required to clarifying the tasks of the project. Moreover, it’s the only chance to create an AR application that fully meets your expectations. In order to secure both parties of the process, it is most reasonable to sign a contract, which will indicate all the details of future cooperation.
The first stage usually takes from 80 to 150 hours.
#2. Choosing SDK
Augmented reality app development requires a software library that can recognize 2D markers and overlay additional content on top of a real image. Also, the important point is to support a wide range of devices which will help ensure greater availability of the application. In other words, you need a software development kit - SDK.
The SDK is a tool designed to simplify and shorten the coding process (which would positively affect the AR app development cost).
We offer you to look at the following SDKs, the most popular ones.
ARtoolKIt is a library of tracking for augmented reality with open source. Supported platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, OS X, and smart glasses.
ARtoolKit implements the following features:
- position/orientation tracking for devices with conventional and stereoscopic cameras
- tracking simple black squares
- flat-panel image tracking
- camera calibration
- Plugins for Unity and OpenSceneGraph
- the ability to work with optical helmets and glasses
- free open-source software
- sufficient speed for real-time AR applications
Though, the variety of features is also a drawback of the library because it makes the process of its integration more difficult.
Vuforia is one of the world's most popular augmented reality app development platforms.
It implements the following features:
- recognition of various types of visual objects (cube, cylinder, plane)
- text and environment recognition
- VuMark (a combination of image and QR code).
All plugins and functionalities of the platform are free but they include Vuforia watermarks. Restrictions apply only to VuMark and the number of interactions with the cloud database. A paid plan is about $ 99 per month.
Take this into account when calculating the augmented reality app cost and drawing up a budget.
EasyAR is a simple and easy-to-use alternative to Vuforia. Supported platforms: Android, iOS, UWP, Windows, OS X and Unity.
Version 2.0 includes the following features:
- 3D object recognition
- perception of the environment
- cloud recognition
- work with smart glasses
- cloud-based deployment of applications
The library is completely free, which reduces the AR app development cost.
According to various reviews and efficiency comparisons, Kudan is the main competitor of Vuforia. Supported platforms: Android, iOS.
Using SLAM technology, Kudan allows recognizing simple images and 3D objects and provides easy database generation into the Unity editor.
The free version is intended only for testing applications. The cost of a paid license is $ 1,230. Kudan is easy to integrate, but, on the other hand, possible problems with the Unity editor complicate the augmented reality app development process.
It’s another convenient platform, which supports the following platforms: Android, iOS, smart glasses.
Wikitude has recently released a new powerful SLAM solution aimed at augmented reality applications, namely Wikitude SDK 6.
Wikitude SDK 6 has the following features: excellent image recognition and tracking, 3D tracking technology based on SLAM, GEO Data (improved work with georeferenced data), cloud recognition.
- Improved Extended Tracking function to save the position of the mark, even if it is outside the camera's view
- advanced camera settings
- increased stability of image tracking
Wikitude offers a free trial with a watermark and full platform functionality. The price of Wikitude SDK 6 starts from € 1990. This, of course, affects the cost of the augmented reality app.
Xzimg represents three products to work with applications based on augmented reality: Augmented Face, Augmented Vision, and Magic Face.
Xzimg Augmented Face recognizes and tracks faces using Unity. Xzimg Augmented Vision recognizes and tracks flat images with Unity. Xzimg Magic Face is designed to replace facial features and make-up.
A free trial version is only available for demonstrations (it inverts the color and changes the image). The paid version includes all the features of the platform and costs € 1600. So you won’t be able to cut your AR app development costs in such a case.
Maxst offers two different tools to recognize images and environments. The database is created online through the Tracking Manager. To scan 3D-objects, you should use applications on Android and iOS.
Note: Maxst works only with the 32-bit version of the Unity editor.
The free version differs from the paid one only in a watermark, so you can choose it if the issue of the augmented reality app development cost is the matter of principle for you. The price of the PRO version is $ 999. The library is very easy to use and integrate.
#3. App Coding Process
There are two main principles for the augmented reality app development:
- based on the marker;
- based on the user location.
No-marker technologies are often used in mobile devices and built with the help of special sensors: an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, a GPS receiver. More specifically:
- Processing of gyroscope data. This is the simplest solution for augmented reality app development. We use the data which is obtained through the smartphones' gyros and which allows us to form virtual models in 3D format, combining them with the surrounding reality. 250-350 hours of development.
- GPS module. Here, the advanced A-GPS technology is being used, it takes advantage of cellular communication and Wi-Fi connection, which increases the accuracy of geolocation. The development time takes about 550-650 hours. The AR app cost, respectively, is higher.
- SLAM technology. SLAM means Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. The method has the highest accuracy and effectively creates 3D objects, imposing them on environmental ones. Its advantage is the ability to use different sensors for data processing at once, including gyroscope, GPS-module, camera, accelerometer, etc. Of course, the cost of an augmented reality app is rather high in this very case, since the development time is more than 850 hours (and sometimes more than 1000 hours).
Discussing the system of markers, we should say that such a way of the augmented reality app development is quite widespread. It implies the formation of markers of different levels of complexity (the top of the line is to distinguish objects like human faces or animals).
A marker is an object located in the surrounding space, which is being recognized and analyzed by special software for the subsequent drawing of virtual objects.
The main difficulty is to find the marker, determine its location in the frame and project the virtual model accordingly.
Developers need about 450-550 hours to implement one of the technologies described above. The more difficult the coding, the more hours specialists will spend, and the higher the AR app cost.
#4. Design Solution
When it comes to augmented reality with its virtual 3D models, design becomes a top priority task requiring a high skill.
Usually, the design stage includes:
- Building wireframe;
- 3D models creation;
- UI/UX and graphic design;
- Creation of animated images.
Time to implement this list is about 400-600 hours.
#5. Extra Features
In the process of preparing the budget and calculating your future augmented reality app costs, be sure to consider that you have to think about the functionality of your service. AR feature alone cannot meet all the needs of your user.
Of course, it is difficult to judge which features your application should have, it all depends on the nature of your business. In general, we can offer the following options:
- Log-in (offer different ways to register, through email, SMS, social media, etc.);
- Access to phone contacts, gallery, and other smartphone resources;
- Push notifications;
- The Payment system, if you need one;
- Messaging feature;
Of course, this is a fairly short list, feel free to add other features you need. But remember: your developer’ll have to spend about 10-50 hours, sometimes more, to implement any of them.
By the way, if we are talking about games with the AR effect, the situation becomes even more complicated. And the cost of augmented reality app increases, because you should implement additional features such as:
- All kinds of ratings - 25-35 hours;
- Different sound effects – 75-85 hours;
- Real-time gaming with multi-players – 200-300 hours;
- Awards and achievements – 50-70 hours.
You cannot forget about testing your application. The qualified QA team should carefully check your service and make sure it works flawlessly. Usually, testing takes up to 100 hours.
Of course, it’s also an important expense item. Usually, it reaches 20-50% of the AR app development cost per year.
Application support implies constant service updating, expansion of functionality, improvement of the quality of work, etc.
So, summing up, let's say that the AR app development cost varies within the following limits:
- Simple AR applications: $30-50 000
- Medium-sized AR apps: $50-200,000
- Complex AR applications (most often, games): from $ 250,000, sometimes up to $2,000,000
Our team develops unique custom Augmented Reality apps and experiences. We cover the full development cycle: from concept to project implementation.
- A turnkey solution, from scratch and without templates;
- Research of the market and competitors;
- Forming an application structure;
- Coding without errors;
- Full testing process;
- Integration of the application into your business processes;
- Reconstruction of existing AR applications;
- Help in placing applications in AppStore and Google Play.
We’ll advise you on all issues of VR and AR technologies and give an evaluation of the project within 24 hours.
But most importantly, the cost of augmented reality app development is quite affordable.
Both users and companies would be delighted with the augmented and virtual reality: the first ones will enjoy a new vivid experience while the business owners’ll be able to keep up with the times and offer advanced solutions. AR technologies have a great future, and it's important not to miss the chance to be among the leaders while it’s still possible.