Tag Archive for: Mobile App AR

Augmented Reality Vs. Virtual Reality: What Are The Differences?

With recent tech developments, it’s common to get involved in heated augmented reality vs. virtual reality debates with peers. After all, both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have made significant strides in recent years. And you’ll often come across those that have picked their favorite between the two.

But is one truly better than the other, or is media hype affecting our opinions? The hard truth is that neither technology is better than the other. And while they may seem similar on the surface, they have entirely different use cases.

A user that puts on a pair of AR glasses has completely different needs and expectations than someone that dons VR goggles. Even the technologies themselves have specific features and limitations that set them apart. The keen observer will discover many benefits of augmented reality, which are missing in virtual reality. On the flip side, an avid gamer may become one of the VR faithful due to the abundance of virtual reality games

Therefore, we decided to point out the most significant differences between augmented reality vs. virtual reality in this handy guide. Here, you’ll learn what each technology brings to the table and where and when you should choose one over the other.

Augmented Reality Vs. Virtual Reality: A Brief History Lesson

The first known example of augmented reality dates back to 1957. Morton Heilig — a cinematographer — created the Sensorama, capable of delivering visuals, sounds, smells, and even vibrations. Computers were very bulky and expensive during that period, so the Senosrama didn’t use them at all. Instead, it offered viewers a rudimentary analog experience. 

But over the next few decades, this type of technology evolved considerably. In 1975, the American computer scientist; Myron Krueger created the first interface that allowed users to interact with virtual objects in real-time. And in 1980, the Canadian engineer and transhumanist; Steve Mann invented wearable computing devices, such as the EyeTap Digital Eye Glass, Smartwatch, and the Sequential Wave Imprinting Machine (SWIM). 

In contrast, the first example of virtual reality dates back to the early part of the 1800s. And that’s not surprising, as this was a period when photography was gaining traction. Inventions such as the stereoscope, which used twin mirrors to create a single image, captured peoples’ imaginations back in 1838. 

Then, the stereoscope was developed further and became the View-Master. It was patented in 1939 and became a popular kid’s toy due to how well it displayed 3D images.

And in the mid-1980s, former Atari employee and VPL Research founder; Jaron Lanier coined the term “virtual reality”. His company was also the first to sell VR goggles and the accompanying wired gloves. 

However, Virtuality Group was the first company to bring VR to the masses in 1991. They produced various products like the Virtuality 1000 series, powered by an Amiga 3000 computer and capable of delivering virtual reality games. These Virtuality machines made their way to arcades, expos, techno raves, and shopping malls during the ‘90s.

Which Companies Are Involved In AR & VR?

Several big players, startups, and studios understand the benefits of augmented reality and are actively involved in bringing forth AR experiences and technologies. These include Apple, Facebook, Gravity Jack, Groove Jones, Google, Microsoft, Next/Now, Niantic, and VironIT, to name a few. And many of the same entities are also involved in VR.

But it’s not out of the ordinary for studios to offer AR, VR, and even mobile app development services, similarly to NS804. And that makes sense since development methodologies, technologies, and skill sets overlap comfortably on both AR & VR projects. 

And then, there’s Valve Corporation, the famous game developer and owner of the PC digital megastore — Steam. For a while, Valve seemed to focus more on the VR side of things with their Valve Index headset, even though it’s more than capable of doubling up as an AR system. But in 2021, a Valve patent revealed that the company plans to bring a unique AR technology to PC gamers.

What Are The Differences Between AR And VR Headsets? 

One of the benefits of augmented reality is that users don’t need to wear headsets for specific applications. Many popular mobile apps and games utilize the phone camera to display the outside world to viewers — but with a twist! Instead of the same mundane world that users see in real life, they see a more colorful and imaginative world on their phones. 

AR development studios utilize striking user interfaces (UIs) and graphics, which they overlay on the imagery feeding through the camera. Now, users can interact with the onscreen UI and graphical assets, enjoying unique experiences that were not possible before the advent of AR. 

Of course, some users may prefer to wear AR glasses, as these enhance immersion. But their view is not obstructed like would happen if they were wearing VR goggles. 

And on the subject of VR goggles, they’re essential for enjoying any virtual reality experience. The user is closed off from the surrounding environment and has no view of the outside world. For some, this may seem like a scary, claustrophobic, or even downright anti-social technology.

But it’s worth overcoming these concerns and fears, as nothing matches the immersion that VR offers. Furthermore, the design choices of modern VR goggles account for the comfort, health, and safety of users. 

In a nutshell, AR glasses or headsets closely resemble ordinary reading glasses. And VR goggles still retain some bulkiness and wiring, mainstays from yesteryear’s Virtuality headsets. But as VR technology evolves and matures, we can expect headsets to get lighter and smaller in size.

What Do Users Expect From AR And VR Experiences? 

AR users feel more comfortable interacting with the outside world. Moreover, they’re avid smartphone users and utilize a variety of helpful apps for their daily tasks. So, an AR user that travels regularly will use an app such as World Around Me to pinpoint landmarks and tourist attractions. 

Another way such a user would utilize an AR app is when deciding on future purchases. For example, they may use the IKEA Place app to see what a true-to-scale wall unit from IKEA looks like in their apartment. And with more clothing brands releasing AR apps, it’s a convenient way to try out those nice pair of jeans without having to go near a changing room.

Alternatively, VR users feel more comfortable with bleeding-edge technology. These users crave the VR experiences promised by cyberpunk movies, novels, and video games over the past four decades. They want to feel like one of the protagonists in a William Gibson novel or Neo from the Matrix films. 

Many VR users also own powerful custom-built PCs to run the latest and most graphically demanding virtual reality games. They’re the epitome of the power user that always stays ahead of the curve. 

However, VR does not only benefit gaming. It also plays a role in architecture and design, medical training, military training, and real estate tours, as just a few noteworthy examples. So, VR brings forth several tangible real-world solutions to any market or discipline that requires a powerful simulation tool.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, we’ve addressed the most crucial augmented reality vs. virtual reality differences and arguments. Both AR and VR are continuously evolving, and we’ve yet to see their true potential.

In the case of AR, it’s the more approachable technology since there’s no need to purchase an expensive headset, and it doesn’t shut off the user from the outside world. But VR is the more bleeding-edge and immersive technology and ideal for gaming and simulations. 

But one thing’s for sure, the tech industry’s big players and forward-thinking studios are heavily involved in both AR & VR.

Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you create phenomenal AR & VR apps that will amaze your users. We have offices in Charlotte, NC, Richmond, VA, and Denver, CO to assist you in building the app you need.

7 Tips For Better Android App Development

Android app development remains a promising path for appreneurs and developers seeking new opportunities. And with recent announcements regarding Android 12, Material You, and the latest foldable phones, these are exciting times. 

If you are an experienced Android developer or simply sitting by the sidelines, there’s never been a better time to hop on board. Even if you’re an ardent iOS developer that has steered clear of Android, it’s time to give the platform another look. Below, we reveal several handy tips to enhance your Android app development experience in 2022 and beyond!

1. Read The Developer Guides Thoroughly

Set up your Google developer profile, then go through the developer guides. These are well-written and informative, so you should find everything you need to get started. Furthermore, there are training courses for beginner and intermediate developers. And if you plan on studying further, you may want to sign up for the certification and degree programs.

2. Download And Install Android Studio

Android Studio is the official integrated development environment (IDE) for Android development, so you should use it. It’s a powerful suite that’s indispensable for native Android app development. Moreover, it’s a better option than the Eclipse IDE since it’s a more focused tool for Android development. But if you’re developing for multiple platforms, you may want to go with Visual Studio 2019 or 2022.

3. Choose Kotlin Instead Of Java

If you’re starting your Android development journey today, choose Kotlin instead of Java as your programming language. Kotlin is a more modern yet less-verbose language than Java, resulting in a faster and smoother coding experience. The only reason to choose Java is to maintain existing apps written in that language.

4. Learn Material Design

Google has created Material, a design system for creating eye-catching user interfaces (UI) and themes. It consists of component libraries and a states system, allowing designers to build interactive UIs efficiently. Learning the Material design system is worthwhile because it supports Android, Flutter, iOS, and the web.

5. Use A Game Engine For Immersive Experiences

While Android Studio is great, it does have a few shortcomings. For example, it’s not the most effective tool for creating the immersive experiences found in augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) apps. Instead, it’s better to use Godot, Unity, or Unreal Engine for any visually-rich projects, including mobile games.

6. Profile Your Apps Regularly 

Android Studio and most game engines come with a built-in profiler. Use the profiler regularly, as it reveals performance bottlenecks in your apps. It will track CPU and GPU usage, examine threads, detect memory leaks, and even show network traffic. Without profiling, you risk submitting an app that Google Play will likely reject or earn you negative user reviews.

7. Focus On Security

Hackers and malware creators target the Android platform due to its massive user base. That’s why you should seek ways to harden the security of your apps and follow best practices. 

Ensure that you’re doing the utmost when storing user data and dealing with sensitive information. Furthermore, keep the number of app permissions to a minimum and cede these when no longer necessary. And use the Nogotofail tool to check for vulnerabilities in your encrypted communications.

The Bottom Line

While Android app development can be fun and rewarding, it can also be frustrating. But the good news is that the development experience on Android has improved tremendously over the years. And if you follow our handy tips, you’re bound to reap the benefits of the platform. Contact NS804 to learn more about building phenomenal Android apps today!

What The Metaverse Means For Developers

If you regularly follow tech media outlets, you’ve likely heard of the metaverse. But even if you haven’t, recent announcements by the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, turned heads. He launched an ambitious initiative that will transform the social media giant into an all-encompassing metaverse company. Now that’s big news that no developer can ignore!

But will the metaverse live up to expectations, or is it only hype? While we don’t have a crystal ball to predict its future, many big players want to make the metaverse a part of our lives. We’ve seen how the internet, smartphones, and cryptocurrencies gained support early on and now enjoy wide adoption. Thus, the metaverse may enjoy a similar fate and open up many exciting opportunities for developers.

What Exactly Is The Metaverse?

If you’ve played an immersive 3D game or tried out virtual reality (VR), you’ve experienced something akin to the metaverse. A better example is Second Life, an online virtual world dating back to 2003. It combined gameplay aspects from massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and social space for users to interact with each other. 

Yet what made Second Life so compelling is how users could craft clothes and other goods for their 3D avatars and sell these to others. Many savvy content creators took advantage of this and started selling their virtual goods within Second Life’s marketplace. Thus, giving birth to an early model of a digital economy that functioned independently from exterior influences. 

And you could also say that Second Life is the granddaddy of the modern metaverse. But there are a few differences, as the metaverse doesn’t rely on an MMORPG as its core component and doesn’t have the limited appeal of Second Life. After all, not everyone is a gamer, and many users would prefer to trade virtual goods or provide other services instead.

What Can Users Do In The Metaverse

We’ve already established the metaverse is like a giant virtual sandbox that allows for many forms of user interaction. And a key reason why Facebook is moving in this direction is that it’s a natural evolutionary process for the company. It already engages over 2.9 billion active users that interact with each other and conduct business directly on Facebook.

So every social media outlet and any business that engages with these outlets will give users the necessary tools to interact within the metaverse. In a way, they will democratize the creation process of virtual goods and services for the masses. 

Architects can create and sell virtual real estate, while artists and designers can turn their creations into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and sell them at auctions. Furthermore, advertisers and fashion brands can use the floor space and shops within the metaverse’s virtual malls. And due to the easy integration of blockchain technologies, expect crypto transactions to become commonplace.

What Opportunities Should Developers Pursue? 

Developers should focus on blockchain technology and crypto APIs. These must work flawlessly with any virtual stores found in the metaverse. And make it easy for users to conduct transactions via any device, whether a smartphone or virtual headset.

But there are also many opportunities for creating the tools that will empower users. Easy-to-use 3D modeling apps, NFT minting tools, and secure crypto exchanges will be essential. On top of that, create apps that allow users to trade virtual goods, hire virtual laborers, and host virtual events.

In Conclusion

The metaverse is still in its infancy but promises big things thanks to the support coming from Epic Games, Facebook, and Microsoft. And it may very well become the next big thing that opens doors for creative and savvy developers. Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you create stunning apps for smartphones and the metaverse.

An AR Case Study – NS804’s First AR Venture

Takeaways From NS804’s First AR Venture – An AR Case Study

Augmented reality (AR), is still being mastered by tech and software professionals alike. While there have been bounds and leaps made in the pursuit of developing more complex and more robust AR technology. These advances support the delivery of more immersive, realistic, and functional AR applications. NS804’s introduction to building an AR application came a few years ago and was mostly accomplished using the antiquated AR Kit 2. While there have been major advances in the software available to building AR, a lot of the core-concepts NS804 learned through this build apply, and will continue to apply to all AR applications now and in the future. This AR case study will evaluate and address some of the issues and complications that arose through the duration of this AR project. Then, the AR case study will detail some of the main lessons and takeaways from the project.

The Ask

The client in this instance was asking for an AR application that would relay data from machinery and equipment to a collector, without the need for the collector to ever come within eyesight of physical contact of the machine from which they’re pulling data. This data refers to the ‘vitals’ of the machinery and included aspects like temperature, pressure, load capacity, and other integral information regarding the machines maintenance and operational efficiency. This was a complicated project because it involved using coordinates and GPS navigation to pinpoint the equipment location, and feed that information into the AR apps map.

The Obstacles

In approaching this complication there were multiple hurdles that needed to be addressed. Firstly, there was an issue with accuracy. As even the most powerful satellite mapping can only provide an accuracy of five meters, give or take, pinpointing the exact location of the machinery became difficult. What added to this difficulty was the equipments proximity to itself. Oftentimes, different machines would be less than 100 yards away from one another. This accentuates the accuracy issue, providing another obstacle NS804 needed to work around.

In addition to the accuracy being an issue for the machines themselves and their placement on the AR interface, the tags that were required to populate also ran into a proximity issue. The tags would populate overlaying one another, or start to flicker instead of hold solid when appearing in AR.

Another complication occurred in building the perspective of the AR interface. Since there is a specific aspect to positioning in AR, and since AR was still brand new at the time; there was a lot of learning and trial by error conducted. Luckily for you, NS804 has done the work of pioneering, so they’re in a position to help design, consult, and guide on the most sophisticated and robust AR apps on the market.

Solutions

The solutions for the main obstacles above were all integrated and related. The first aspect of the comprehensive solution to these problems revolving around positioning and placement had to do with orientation. In AR, everything has to be oriented to true north – it’s how the position of virtually everything is calculated. This anchors the AR interface which was the first step to solving these issues.

Once the app was oriented toward true north, the next step was creating a more user-friendly perspective. In the first iterations, the perspective was delivered through a sort of cone-view. This was disorienting and hard to use. Instead, the app was designed to place the user in the middle of area they were surveying. This allowed the user to then use the AR app as a sort of lens, and as they moved it along their survey-area, different tags would populate.

This leads to the next issue that NS804 needed to address in order to deliver a functional, and user-friendly experience to the client. As the user viewed their survey area, and information tags began to populate; the info-tags would begin to flicker in and out. It was soon discovered that these info-tags would flicker if they were set to the same depth. Setting the tags to varying depths solved this issue, making it possible to keep the tags from overlapping and flickering in and out.

All-in-all the bulk of the complications that arose during this build were involved with the visual aspect and perspective in one way or another. NS804 was able to successfully deliver the client-ready version in about 60 days and after around 25 iterations. Being at the onset of the AR-era, NS804 could build an app of similar capability today in 2-3 weeks and more than half the iterations. This is massive jump in efficiency stems from more advanced and more robust AR design software available, as well as the experience involved in building this AR app and learning a lot of the core theories of AR design.

Key Takeaways From the AR Case Study

This AR case study should highlight a variety of important lessons regarding the development of AR applications, the trial-and-error process, and knowledge that comes with experiencing an AR design and build firsthand.

True North: In designing an AR application NS804’s first big-lesson was in orientation. Orienting everything that renders within the AR universe to true-north is how the entirety of an AR application locates everything. This enables other functionality of the AR like mapping, and positional population – as was necessary in this design.

Centered Perspective: This was another positional setting that NS804 learned in regards to creating AR applications. Centering the user perspective within the AR universe allows an expanded and more user-friendly visual field. Rather than viewing the world through a distorted “cone-view”, centering the user allows for a more comfortable user experience, plus it’s less straining on the eyes.

Layering: The third lesson related to positioning and orientation, as well as the visual experience – had to do with layering the environment successfully. This involved placing information-tags that carried the sought-after data at different depths within the AR environment. This eliminated the issues that were posed by overlapping tags that had a bad habit of flickering.

Prepared to Pivot: The final takeaway from this client project was be flexible and capable of pivots. After the successful delivery of this build; the client immediately began discovering additional uses for the software that would require additional builds and versions. These future visions revolved around converting the AR application into a marketing and sales tool. While these iterations have yet to be realized, the ability to adapt, evolve, and improve should always be the foremost priority of software developers and mobile app designers.

This AR case study illuminated a lot of knowledge into AR design for NS804, and it’s our hope that it acts as a good guide for other industry professionals looking for documentation on developing an AR application.

A similar project undertaken by NS804, today, could be accomplished in a fraction of the time. Rather than a two-month turnaround with over 25 reiterations, and a prolonged testing period, NS804 could deliver the same level of an AR application in a 2-week-timeframe. This is capable today because of learned knowledge from the original project, an upgrade in AR building software available, and more accessible and comprehensive information regarding AR that is also available.

NS804 is dedicated to making mobile app development services of any scale, available to anybody. Armed with years of experience across industries, softwares, and platforms NS804 is an excellent choice for appreneurs looking for assistance designing their next mobile-app venture. Get in touch with NS804 today to start the design-discussion, and receive expert-level guidance on your mobile-app venture.