Taking AR projects from imagination to reality

September 3, 2020 Ellen Grogan

From Pokémon characters dropped into city streets to costume filters decorating our Snapchat selfies, AR experiences are becoming a part of our daily lives. But augmented reality is more than entertainment. Now, brands are getting seriously involved too. Today, businesses with physical products, real-world locations, or troves of intellectual property are exploring AR as a compelling way to create useful, engaging, and – above all – realistic consumer experiences.

But the reality is, you can’t control (or predict) the user’s environment, device, technology expertise, location, or physical abilities. This makes it incredibly difficult to develop an experience that will work consistently in the presence of any of these challenges.

Leading immersive agency and Unity MARS customer Sugar Creative has seen them all – so we recently teamed up with the UK studio to host a webinar, “From Imagination to Reality.”

Unity XR specialists from our technical and business development teams joined Will Humphrey, lead creative & studio director of Sugar Creative, the studio behind Dr. Seuss’s ABC–An Amazing AR Alphabet! and many other augmented experiences.

Watch the webinar on-demand to learn about:

  • The growing importance of AR for business
  • Challenges to a truly natural-feeling experience
  • Overcoming technology hurdles to gain creative and development time

Watch the webinar

If you're a creative studio or agency facing these real-world challenges with AR development, check out some of the key topics covered in the webinar below.

What are some industry AR scenarios to start exploring?

  • Entertainment – bringing existing media assets to life, adding components of interactivity and play so that you’re not merely telling a story – the user is experiencing the story
  • Construction – digital twinning as a way to incorporate raw data and simulation; taking BIM data and moving it into a visual space
  • Product development – visualizing and working out the usage of a product; incorporating storytelling about the product, following it back to its creation
  • Education – allowing learners to explore inaccessible new frontiers – for instance, taking tiny, cellular-level content that you can’t even see with your eye, and put it in a familiar place to give it context
  • Medical – building relationships with the patient, demystify diagnoses for patients in a meaningful context

What’s the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the potential for AR?

The pandemic is highlighting the greater need to make experiences accessible for people who don’t have access – or can’t physically travel – to a specific location. Will reminds us that people can’t simply travel wherever they want, even when the world eventually recovers. “So the question is, ‘why can’t I be transported there?’ Or, ‘why can’t the experience come to me?’” That means brands and agencies who provide it will actually see an expansion of the marketplace.

What’s more, he says, businesses and attractions are realizing they have audiences in rural areas, or disadvantaged populations, that aren’t in a position to attend on-location performances, shows, exhibits, or other venues. Now they can provide experiences where these audiences already are.

What keeps immersive apps from feeling integrated into the environment?

  • Device capabilities – every platform is different, and authors need to consider all the technology platforms
  • The real world – there’s a heavy expectation on the AR app to interpret the environment it’s in; it needs to be ‘aware’ of its surroundings, which implies incorporating intelligence
  • Individual users – most importantly, what abilities do people have? What disabilities do people have? How do all the users differ?

Creating intelligent AR “is the way to bridge these differences so we can have a shared experience,” says Will.

Image courtesy of Sugar Creative

What is intelligent AR?

In essence, the intelligent AR capabilities in Unity MARS enable developers to capture real-world information and use spatial data in a way that bridges the physical environment with the digital experience.

This use of data integrates the imagined assets with the surrounding surfaces, walls, floors, objects, and rooms while accounting for scale and even dimensionality aspects like depth and distance. (In the webinar, Will illustrates this with a “hide and seek” game from the Dr. Seuss’s ABC app, shown side-by-side in the MARS interface and in a screen capture of the app in use.)

It also makes testing in simulated environments readily accessible without deploying to every platform, which immediately solves for one of the above challenges in authoring augmented experiences – and results in more time for development and design.

What makes augmented reality different from other creative mediums?

Most creatives tell their stories – in film, art, performance – knowing how they will be experienced, says Will. With this medium, the creators and authors have no idea how it will be experienced.

“We can provide the ingredients to build the world, but then the users will build it on their own – based on the physical environment they’re in, their use of the device, and their individual, personal abilities. Every experience will be different,” he says.

Watch the webinar

Catch From Imagination to Reality on-demand to learn more about solving the challenges of AR experience with intelligent tools.

Watch the webinar

Discover more on how you can use Unity to level up your augmented experiences on our solutions page.

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