WebAR (or web-based augmented reality) is a digital technology that allows you to easily share AR experiences right over the internet — no app required, you just need to use browser on your mobile phone.
Simply send your users to a specific URL using URL on your website or using QR code, and Voila: They are immediately interfacing with your digital experience. With the help of this technology, you can bring a product label to life (even printed one) or add a fully interactive product demo on the back of your business card.
Mobile-based augmented reality — the type of AR that runs on your phone or tablet — has been exploding in popularity over the past couple of years. However, there’s always been a bit of a hiccup: Users first need to download an app in order to enjoy the experience. With WebAR, that is no longer the case; augmented reality features can now live directly in your web browser.
How to get started with WebAR?
Creating a home for your WebAR feature couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do is direct your audience to a designated URL, and you’re off to the races. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the power of QR codes. Users simply open the camera app on their phone, point their lens at the QR and are prompted to tap into your new WebAR experience.
This technology allows you to easily embed interactive content anywhere. If you’d prefer to avoid using QR codes, you can also simply list or share your AR-enabled URL. At that point, the WebAR experience will launch automatically.
These experiences can also be engineered to include fallbacks for those audience members who might be browsing on older devices or on slow bandwidth connections. This is a great practice to follow to help ensure your entire audience has an optimized experience.
The development process of creating WebAR experiences can be broken into six simple steps:
- Planning and Creative: Always begin with a well-rounded plan that clearly states your target audience, campaign goals and creative vision. This will help inform your decisions later on.
- Platform Selection: There are two industry-leading platforms for building WebAR experiences; 8th Wall and Zappar. These are software packages that make developers’ lives easier by giving them access to the base technologies needed to build amazing WebAR experiences — think tools like surface tracking and image recognition. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, but leveraging one of these two platforms will save you valuable time and money compared to developing your experiences from scratch.
- Asset Creation: Now it’s time to start building your 3D digital assets. A good WebAR experience is all about balancing your creative vision with available bandwidth speeds. Highly detailed models or super complex animations can cause web-based experiences to run slowly. For an optimal experience, focus on creating low-poly art assets and engaging yet simple animations.
- Assembly: With your plan in hand, platform selected and assets ready to go, you can begin developing your new WebAR experience. This work will be done through the platform you selected above. Like most digital development, this process is fairly technical and best handled by a developer or team of developers with experience building in the platform.
- Testing: Testing is an important step when building any digital experience — but especially with WebAR, as there are so many variables to consider. We recommend testing across all major mobile platforms and web browsers. If possible, we also suggest trying the experience on different network connections (Wi-Fi, 4G, 3G, etc.)
- Distribution: Both 8th Wall and Zappar offer hosting services and custom URL integrations if you prefer to keep things simple. You can also export the final experience and host it on your own servers Either way, you can now share your new WebAR experience by simply sharing the host URL via QR code or any other means.