Creating a location-aware AR app with lots of visual content can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it can also be an exciting and rewarding project. Our team at Creativa and 7-YM was recently hired by The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust to create such an app, Discover Cemeteries. and this is how we did it.
The first step in the development process was to define the app’s goals. We wanted to create an app that would improve the user’s experience of their surroundings while also providing useful information about the different things to see while visiting the cemetery. With this in mind, we decided to concentrate our efforts on developing an app that would be particularly useful for visitors and people exploring the location.
Throughout the creation, our development team faced numerous challenges, not only to ensure a smooth user experience, but also to accommodate the wide range of media used by the activations. The main development challenge was implementing a new technology, Augmented Reality, that was able to work on the most popular mobile devices with limited resources. Although difficult, the payoff when everything comes together is well worth it.
We then began working on the app’s technical aspects. We created a location-aware AR experience by combining the ARKit and Core Location frameworks. This meant that the app would use GPS data to determine the user’s location and then display AR animations and information specific to that location.
We also built a database (16 activations) of visual content to be used in the AR animations. This content would be displayed on the user’s device and include 3D models, animations, videos, and motion graphics. We collaborated closely with the client to ensure that the creative content was accurate as well as engaging, and would improve the user’s experience of the location. With so many media formats, we had to design an ecosystem that could accommodate everything while still being flexible enough to allow for agile adjustments during our rapid development.
We began working on the user interface and user experience design after the technical aspects of the app were completed. We wanted the app to be simple and intuitive to use, so we focused on developing a simple and clean design. We also included features such as a map view and a list view to help users navigate to multiple places at the location and access information about them.
The last key feature we had to implement was camera tracking for all the AR activations. We scanned the environment, converting real world objects into planes and models that the App can understand, guaranteeing the 3D models are perfectly located in the exact position where real world objects meet digital assets, ensuring the immersion of the user, This is by no means an easy feat, especially across so many devices and technologies. Keeping this in mind, we chose Unity analytics to collect user data in regards to the action they took in navigating through the app and performing clickable actions.
We finally launched the app after several rounds of testing and iteration. Users’ feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with many people remarking on how the app has improved their experience while visiting the cemetery. We will continue to collaborate with GMCT to update the app and add new locations and creative content, ensuring that it remains a valuable tool for people seeking to have a different experience.
Creating a location-aware AR app with visual content can be a challenging but rewarding project. We were able to make an app that improves the user’s experience of their surroundings and gives them useful information about the place they visit by setting clear goals, focusing on technical details, and making creative content that is interesting and fun to use.
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