Build innovative apps with these best practices for AR development
In light of the stunning success of “Pokémon Go,” many enterprises are moving toward developing similarly innovative apps of their own, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps. According to TechCrunch, AR could become the primary driver of a $108 billion AR/VR market by 2021.
How can enterprises successfully capitalize on this opportunity? What should they look for when building an AR app development team, and what are the most effective strategies for building a competitive AR app? Here’s a look at some of today’s best practices for app development.
How to build an enterprise AR app team
An enterprise’s ability to build innovative apps greatly depends on the talent of its development team. With that in mind, it’s essential to look for certain qualities when hiring developers to create a successful AR app.
AR relies heavily on image processing to create its dazzling overlays of imagery on top of real-world scenes. Because it tracks natural features or specific markers in the environment along the way, it’s wise to ensure that your team possesses relevant expertise. Computer vision and 3-D modeling are also important skills to have, along with deep proficiency in the programming languages required for AR (often C# and C++) as well as specific AR development platforms they may be using for the project.
It is important for your AR development team to generate realistic images that align well with the natural environment — otherwise, the resulting app will not render an authentic mixed reality effect. Your AR app development team must have strong UI/UX skills — after all, they will need to literally put themselves in the user’s shoes to envision what the user envisions. This is vital for creating a genuinely captivating, immersive experience that continually keeps users intrigued and engaged.
Finally, any developers you bring onboard should have an excellent track record in creating, deploying and refining innovative AR apps that are similar to what you have in mind — whether that’s a consumer-facing mobile app such as a game or AR for the workplace. A rock-solid development process is also a must. Remember that your app will need continual improvements and enhancements well after it has been released, so you want to be certain that you’re entering this potentially long-term business relationship with the right partners.
Development strategy for creating innovative apps
You’ll need to have a strong mobile app development platform in hand, equipped with AR development capabilities and designed to create state-of-the-art apps that efficiently run on your platforms of choice.
One important question to consider is whether your app development strategy is future-proofed. For example, is your AR app holistically aligned with other app development initiatives you have in the pipeline, or is it part of an ad hoc collection of apps that create fragmented or inconsistent user experiences? Does your app development rest on a highly scalable cloud infrastructure that reduces complexity and offers the flexibility to accommodate future technological advancements?
Of course, building a successful enterprise app is about much more than infrastructure and code or even a memorable user experience. It also involves effective team collaboration and project management. You’ll also want to clarify roles and responsibilities for all phases of the project, including points of collaboration elsewhere within the enterprise — for example, who will liaise with the marketing team to ensure that the launch is a success. A holistic, overarching app development strategy is beneficial for just this purpose since it does not require a team to re-create the wheel each time an app is being developed.
You will also need sufficient funding for the project, taking into account the costs involved in building the app as well as ongoing maintenance and feature improvements. Adequately resourcing your AR app from the beginning is essential, as not doing so could actually rack up even greater costs involved with redesigning an unwieldy app from scratch later on.
How to design a competitive enterprise AR app
In a marketplace sure to become crowded, it’s important to ensure that your AR app stands out from the competition. One proven method enterprises are already successfully using to achieve this is developing and launching unique AR apps that are distinctly aligned with their existing brand identity and that reduce friction in the customer experience. Another involves pursuing smart strategic partnerships that provide access to coveted audiences.
For example, as Forbes reports, IKEA and L’Oréal have notched considerable AR successes precisely because their apps provide meaningful value to their customers, rather than simply representing a novelty. The IKEA Place app allows customers to virtually place furniture inside their homes in a simulated try-before-you-buy exercise, empowering them to make more informed purchases. Not only does this app meet customers’ needs — enhancing brand loyalty in the process — but it also boosts bottom-line growth by removing a common barrier to making large purchases.
Similarly, makeup giant L’Oréal has released AR apps that allow its customers to virtually apply makeup and style their hair using L’Oréal products, experimenting with looks to discover the ideal beauty products to purchase. L’Oréal has also pursued strategic partnerships with other AR apps. One example is the integration of its beauty collections into the wildly popular YouCam Makeup app. This has allowed L’Oréal to leverage its strategic partners’ influence in order to tap new audiences, thus compounding the value and impact of its own AR investment.
Enterprises have a terrific opportunity to capitalize on the lucrative potential of AR by intelligently investing in experiences that logically extend their brands to this digital realm while also resolving customer pain points and generating new opportunities for revenue. By taking a proactive, strategic approach early on, they can best position themselves for success now and well into the future.