AR study # 6: What Web AR can do?
Updated: Apr 21
Trial test of Web AR by using XR viewers
HOW AR FOR THE WEB WORKS. — DIAGRAM BY OURSKY
How does web AR compare to native app?
Currently, web browsers don’t have enough access in terms of the AR camera. The AR camera differs from the traditional camera as it handles the augmentation at the OS level and not on-top of it. Current implementations of web-based AR require the calculations to be done on top of the OS causing computational lag, limiting rendering, and sometimes even causing visible lag. A huge step towards making AR even more accessible through the web would be for the Web Standards to adopt an API for direct access to the camera object. If that abstraction could exist as a standard web API, any browser app could leverage ARkit/ARCore or whatever underlying platform exists. Once a web API exists many different frameworks will emerge. There are a few experimental browsers that leverage ARKit/ARCore but they require a specific JS framework. USDZ is a good start but it’s missing a vital component, a layer that adds support for interaction. Google’s efforts are still only available in the canary version of Chrome, so until it is included within the production build it will lag behind Apple’s.
What is the benefit compared to native AR? By leveraging WebAR, we can create an AR experience that users of any smartphone can see from a web browser. The possibilities of sharing AR content are vastly improved, as you can share the link to WebAR content just like any other link over multiple marketing channels, on social media posts, display advertising, email, messaging, and so on.
How does web AR work?
In a lot of ways, Web AR can be thought of as an extension to your existing website. In a lot of ways, Web AR can be thought of as an extension to your existing website.
One framework for building Web VR/AR experiences is A-Frame–an entity-component for Three.js, used for creating 3D and Web VR/AR scenes using HTML. RPR has also partnered with 8th Wall–the leading computer vision (i.e. SLAM Tracking) SDK for Web AR on the market.
USING QR CODES IN WEB AR
Web AR is typically initiated using either a hyperlink or a QR Code. For example, if you’re a Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company, to enable Web AR all you need to do is include a QR code on your product packaging or label. If creating new packaging is not possible, some companies we have worked with have used QR Code stickers. Not always ideal, but a work around in some cases.
USING HYPERLINKS IN WEB AR
With Web AR hyperlinks, people can connect the same way traditional advertising and digital channels such as:
What is the limitation for now? 1)A lack of real-world scaling of 3D objects in WebAR, but fortunately there are workarounds, and we believe this will be addressed very shortly. 2)ARKit and ARCore, Apple's and Android's respective Augmented Reality frameworks with their full access to smartphone sensors are still not fully supported with WebAR. 3)High-resolution content and complex animations have to be used sparingly, as the browser will take some of the computing power and bandwidth. What future AR can able to Currently, most AR experiences are either rendered completely on the device or in the future they can be delivered from the cloud. Jerome Etienne has some interesting ideas around Cloud Rendering, where devices would stream the video feed to the server and the server would render the AR with better quality.
So far, the biggest benefit of using web AR for end-users is easy to share and access. With that, Web AR is developed for mostly marketing & branding. However, I think web AR has great potential beyond the marketing industry. First of all, it can be a helpful tool for senior people due to its easy accessibility. Since web AR doesn't need to download from the app store, it has a lower barrier to access. For example, if my grandmother doesn't know how to use the coffee machine, I can send a web AR link. By tapping the links from the text message, my grandmother can see AR instruction on top of the real coffee machine which is more intuitive than a text-based manual for senior people. Secondly, it can make valuable social activity in the virtual space due to its easy shareability. For example, people can install virtual space for sharing their thoughts on social issues. This idea sounds a bit vague, I believe that there is a good way to use web AR as tools of meaningful social activity since web AR can be a more scalable, viral events. It will be great that I can participate in the web-AR-based project in the near future to explore more tangible possibilities. Also, I think it might be a great theme for my thesis.