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What Is Web AR And How Does It Work?

Mobile apps are often seen as the best option for augmented reality (AR) projects, but the development of WebAR has made it possible to deploy certain types of AR content without the need for a dedicated app. This means that in some cases, a mobile app may not be necessary for an AR project. However, it is important to note that apps can still be an effective tool for deploying certain types of AR content.

WebAR, or “web-based augmented reality”, refers to AR content that is accessed and displayed through a smartphone’s web browser, such as Chrome or Safari, rather than through a dedicated app. This can make it easier and more convenient for users to access AR content, as they do not have to download an app from an app store before experiencing it. WebAR can help to make augmented reality more widely available and accessible to a larger audience.

What Is Web AR And How Does It Work?

Augmented reality (AR) involves combining the physical and virtual worlds to create an immersive experience. This can be done by viewing a real-world environment through a smartphone’s camera and enhancing it with computer-generated content. While traditional AR experiences require a dedicated app to access the content, WebAR allows users to access AR content through a special web page on their smartphone’s web browser, without the need for a separate app. Both types of AR provide a similar experience, but the difference lies in how the content is accessed and delivered to the user.

To make it easy for users to access WebAR content, there are various techniques that can be used to direct them to the appropriate web page with minimal barriers. These techniques can help to ensure that users are able to quickly and easily access and experience the Web AR content.

Scan A QR Code With A Mobile Device

WebAR content can be accessed through the use of QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone’s camera. When the camera is pointed at the code, it will automatically open the AR experience in the device’s web browser, allowing the user to experience it without the need to download a dedicated app. This functionality is available on most iOS and Android mobile devices.

Paid Ads On Social

Brands can use paid advertising and social media campaigns to promote WebAR content and reach a wider audience. When users click on a shared link or ad, they will be taken to a web page where they can access and experience the WebAR content. This can be a convenient and effective way for brands to share AR content with a larger audience and engage them in an immersive and interactive experience.

Call To Action On Existing Website

Why not integrate WebAR content into an existing website by linking directly to the Web AR experience? This can enhance the user experience by providing visitors with an interactive and immersive way to engage with the brand. WebAR can be a useful tool for website owners to attract and retain visitors, and it can also be a memorable way to showcase products or services.

Type In The Web Address Directly In Browser

When it comes to deploying WebAR content, it can be helpful to choose a domain name that is easy for users to remember and type into their web browser. The main point here is that any way you could distribute a link normally will be applicable with a Web AR experience.

Development platforms like 8th Wall and ZapWorks Studio are the best options for deploying WebAR experiences, and both offer the basic tools needed to get started.

Types Of Web AR Examples

Real-World Tracking

Like traditional augmented reality, WebAR uses a smartphone’s camera to digitize a real-world environment and add virtual elements to it. This helps to create a realistic experience by ensuring that virtual elements are properly integrated into the physical environment and do not appear out of place. For example, a virtual character would be able to stand on a physical table rather than hovering awkwardly in midair. This is important for creating an immersive and believable AR experience.

Face Tracking

One way to make WebAR experiences more engaging and interactive is to use facial recognition to detect user expressions and gestures. This can enable the use of fun filters, such as digital tattoos or makeup, and allow users to trigger the AR experience by making specific facial expressions. This can be an effective way for brands to create a more personalized experience and generate shareable content. Recognizing user’s faces can also help to make the AR experience more immersive and engaging, as users feel more involved in the experience.

Image Tracking

Brands can use special markers, such as logos, signs, or posters, to trigger WebAR experiences when they are detected by a smartphone’s camera. This can help to enhance the immersive quality of the AR experience by allowing users to initiate it themselves, simply by pointing their camera at the marker. This feature can be a useful way to create interactive and engaging AR experiences that are tied to specific images or branded materials.

For example, a brand could print special QR codes on their cereal boxes and encourage users to scan them with their camera to trigger an AR experience. Once the QR code is scanned, the user is taken to the webAR experience which recognises the packaging and begins the experience. A brand mascot could come to life on the countertop, or the packaging itself could become a simple Web AR game. This type of WebAR experience can be an effective way for brands to engage with their audience and create memorable and shareable content.

So What’s So Special About Web AR

One advantage of WebAR is that it can be easier for users to access than traditional AR experiences that require a dedicated app. WebAR can be accessed simply by visiting a specific web page, and does not require users to download an app or take up storage space on their devices. Additionally, WebAR can be more accessible to users who may have limited phone storage or slower internet speeds, as it does not require a lengthy download process. To use WebAR, a device must be compatible with ARKit (for Apple devices) or ARCore (for Android devices). This means that a wider range of devices can be used to access WebAR content, giving brands more options for rolling out AR experiences.

In addition to being more convenient for users, WebAR offers the added benefit of providing analytics data to track how users interact with the content. This can be valuable for brands and marketers to understand the effectiveness of their campaigns and make informed decisions based on the results. WebAR experiences can be integrated with traditional metrics such as clicks and time spent on a page, as well as more specific data such as the amount of time a user spends interacting with a particular AR experience. This granular data can help to provide a clearer picture of how users engage with the content and can be useful for tracking the success of a campaign.

WebAR can be a practical choice for companies or brands that want to create AR experiences but do not want to invest in the development of a dedicated app. App development can be a complex and time-consuming process, and it may not always make sense to build an app for a single AR experience. WebAR provides a more cost-effective and scalable solution, allowing companies to create immersive AR experiences without the need for a full app. This can be a good option for companies or brands that are not ready to commit significant resources to app development but still want to take advantage of the benefits of AR.

Limitations & Challenges

When considering whether to use a traditional app or WebAR for an AR experience, it is important to consider the type of content and the level of complexity involved. In general, apps offer more capabilities and performance when it comes to AR, as they have access to all of a device’s hardware and resources. This can allow for more complex animations and higher-resolution visuals. In contrast, WebAR experiences may be more limited in terms of performance and visual quality due to the constraints of a mobile browser. It is important to weigh these factors when deciding which platform is the best fit for a particular AR project.

One potential challenge of using WebAR is ensuring that the content is compatible with different mobile browsers. Different browsers, such as Chrome and Safari, can have different capabilities and requirements, which can make it difficult to create a consistent WebAR experience that works across all browsers. This can lead to the possibility of users encountering errors or compatibility issues when accessing the content, which can be frustrating and undermine the effectiveness of the AR experience. To avoid these issues, it is important to carefully test and optimize WebAR content for different mobile browsers to ensure a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

It is important to keep in mind that WebAR experiences may be more limited in terms of capabilities and performance compared to app-based AR. While WebAR can still provide personalized and immersive experiences, more complex or visually impressive AR content may be better suited for a dedicated app. The convenience of WebAR comes with some trade-offs in terms of what is possible to achieve with the technology. When deciding between WebAR and an app for an AR project, it is important to consider the specific goals and objectives of the campaign and choose the format that will best align with those objectives.

In Conclusion

Web AR offers a versatile way for brands to incorporate interactive AR experiences into their campaigns. It provides a range of customization and deployment options and can be easily integrated into a variety of marketing strategies. As technology advances, it is likely that web browsers such as Chrome and Safari will enable the development of more complex and sophisticated WebAR experiences. With experience in the AR space, our company has worked on a number of WebAR projects and is available to answer any questions you may have about this technology.

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