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How to Build a Location-Based AR Application

Steps you should take to create a location-based AR app wisely.


Since the market size of augmented reality solutions is expected to reach $209 billion by 2022, it’s no surprise AR is a trend for a handful of industries like gaming, media and entertainment, advertising, and others.

What Is a Location-Based AR Application?

Location-based AR app is a geo-based augmented reality that doesn’t need any special markers for identifying where to place a virtual object in the real environment.

Such applications use GPS data and digital compass, a combination that works pretty accurately, to determine one’s device location as well as its position.  The location-based AR apps then send queries to the device’s sensors and decide whether they should add the virtual object based on the acquired data.

These applications can function both outdoors and indoors using GPS and beacons.

Some of the most powerful technologies for the development of AR applications of different kinds these days are Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore.

Influence of AR on Various Domains

Without a doubt, AR is going far beyond being a technology for gamers. More and more big players have started introducing AR solutions to engage their audiences.

Let’s dig into how companies use this technology in the following spheres: tourism, education, healthcare, advertising, and entertainment.

1. Tourism

A bright example of using AR in tourism is Florence Travel Guide. This AR-based application allows users to learn more about the historical sights of the city by simply pointing a smartphone’s camera on them.

Similarly, Google’s recent update to Google Maps brought a possibility to navigate through the city using the capabilities of AR.

2. Education

Augmented reality is a perfect fit for education. You all know about the Google Translate application. Thanks to its AR feature, Word Lens, users can translate texts on objects from one language into another, right via their smartphone’s camera.

3. Healthcare

There are tons of med-centered AR applications for university students, doctors or just people interested in medicine.

For instance, Echopixel lets doctors turn CT images into 3D models, increasing clinical knowledge, leading to faster operations, and allowing to deliver better care for patients.

4. Advertising

The campaign by Pepsi with AR glass on a bus stop proves companies can find new ways to engage their audiences using augmented reality.

5. Entertainment

Of course, I couldn’t have skipped this industry. Mobile games similar to Pokemon GO are all about location-based augmented reality.

How to develop a location-based AR application?

Now, it’s time to discuss how to build the location-based augmented reality application.

Resolve the data question

To begin with, you should determine what data you’re going to augment the real world with. I mean, working with text data or overlay images is one thing. But it’s completely another thing to work with custom 3D objects. In this case, you might need to use Unity or some other engines.

Pick the most suitable technology

Tech aspect matters. I’ve already touched upon popular technologies such as ARKit and ARCore. It’s now time to study them more carefully.

Apple’s ARKit

This SDK is equipped with the following features:

  •   Combination of computer vision and camera data needed to track the environment accurately;
  •   Support for horizontal and vertical environments;
  •   Determination of the level of lightning for tailoring the amount of light on virtual models;
  •   Support for Unreal Engine and Unity Engine.
See Also:  Top Augmented Reality SDKs for Developers

Google’s ARCore 

Mapping is probably one of the strongest sides of this platform as you’re going to work with it a lot during the development of your location-based AR applications. It supports motion tracking and detects vertical and horizontal surfaces.

In addition, the SDK’s Cloud Anchors allow two different users to manipulate with AR objects on their smartphones and see changes from different angles.


I haven’t yet mentioned this technology. This is a mobile AR technology provider from Austria, focusing on location-based augmented reality experiences.

Here are its main features:

  •   Ability to track and recognize large objects (e.g. buildings and landscapes);
  •   Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM);
  •   Unity plugin;
  •   Support for frameworks such as Xamarin and Cordova.

However, there is a BUT. The SDK is paid for everyone who doesn’t want to see a Wikitude logo, with prices starting at €499 (about US$813).

The Bottom Line

Augmented reality is an emerging trend many companies already follow, as you can see. I hope this article will help you find out what areas AR has an impact on, as well as what steps you should undertake to create a location-based AR app wisely. Just be clever, and follow the right road!

Guest Post

About the Guest Author(s)

Sergey Lypchenko
Sergey Lypchenko
Technical writer | Cleveroad | + posts

Sergey Lypchenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad, a company that offers web and mobile app development services. Cleveroad’s main goal is to develop first-rate and competitive software for its customers. Sergey’s mission is to provide people with interesting material about innovations in the world of IT.