What we did
Last year we launched two complicated, but incredibly interesting AR project: “Secrets of the metro” and “Moscow in movies”. The first interactive quest “Secrets of the underground” in Moscow subway, which will allow you to find and “revive” the legendary attractions of subway stations.

The second application, “Moscow cinema”, inspired by the iconic photo series “a window to the past” where the old black-and-white images combine with the modern context. We, together with Roskino offered to people in the AR to find places in Moscow, where he was shooting the legendary Soviet films, and combine them with shots from the movie.

In terms of technology, each of the applications was a real challenge. The subway is not running location services constantly there are problems with lighting (it or too much, or too little for a smartphone camera), and it is difficult with text guidelines.
With the app “Moscow in movies” problem was of a different sort: that we need the object was covered with scaffolding, the Moscow weather has varied so that it was difficult to even recognize the building.
In this text we would like to collect your AR experience-development and to highlight the main tips to anyone who wants to try their hand at applications with augmented reality.

In the framework of the project “hi Moscow!” we are looking for new ways of interaction underground with people. We wanted to remind you that the subway is a Museum underground, where each station is filled with mysteries, beauty and interesting facts.
Project AR applications for us was an experiment. But due to the unique mechanics and a really stunning object of the Moscow metro, which was implemented after the application starts “Secrets of the underground” we got a lot of publications in the media and thousands of regular users.
Cultural institutions are often afraid to try new formats, but in the case of quests with augmented reality, we saw what kind of mechanics work perfectly.
Curator of the project “Hello, Moscow!” Oksana Bondarenko

Hire a team of scouts (and figure out how to manage them)
Any AR project is tied to the (harsh) reality. So you’ll need a whole team of people “in the margins” — those who will be able to take pictures, to test the functionality AR to the real objects and test new builds of the application.
To recruit a sufficient number of performers, to give them rules and regulations and to devise a system of motivation, you’ll likely have to hire a specific Manager “scouts”.

In the case of the “Mystery metro” we have also coordinated more than 10 people “in the fields”, which online provided a team of project photos locations, check whether they are suitable for AR, and if not — then quickly came up with and discussed the option of replacing.

Such people should be immediately and with the development team, and team content managers: to quickly finalize the technical stuff in AR, and in case of problems promptly to resolve the issue of model content.

The scouts will help to respond quickly to changing natural conditions, landscape or interior modifications. With them you will be able to parallel the development to take into account the reality and you don’t have to make many changes after the release of the application.

Get ready for extensive testing
Working with augmented reality, test will have in the project preparation stage and after the launch. A simple example: when we did one of the locations “of Moscow in the cinema”, at the beginning of our scouts took a picture of the location, we began to work on its integration into the application.
Later we saw that the object sucked scaffolding (thanks to scout). A week later the scale of construction has increased and the appearance of the building was simply impossible to know. From the location had to be abandoned and cut from the app.

In the subway of difficulties was not less: the change of lighting at the station could lead to the fact that the desired object will be underexposed. Or, conversely, the lamp will Shine directly into the camera and does not work focus, to “revive” the picture.

We are still constantly collecting new responses that certain objects in our AR applications is unavailable and forced to quickly replace them. It’s not rocket science, but you must have budget for post-release technical support of the AR project.

A few important details for those who want to create a project with AR 1. Choose: or to use the AR Kit, or to support older smartphones
Alas, though the AR tool Kit is incredibly convenient, it is only supported by iPhone 6s and above. Plus, it does have limitations in the iOS version. When you are a healer to a wide audience, it is better to simplify everything and implement all the algorithms using OpenCV (a computer vision) than to use the Apple tools.

Photo: Unsplash

The strength of their solution in the fact that you can completely customize. If you see that you want to add a simple object, for training machine vision is sufficient for no more than 50 photos. Using custom balancing settings, we can set sufficient for our case the level of error.
When the application sees that user is the same as geolocation and vision tools say that there is a possibility that the photo is “wrong” object (within reason), we are likely to confirm that everything is correct, than refuse — thanks to geolocation. Custom solution always makes it possible to minimize errors using balanced settings.

2. Applications AR a lot of weigh, and solutions to virtually none By the standards of mobile applications any AR-quests a lot of weigh from 200 MB. Alas, it is a given technology.

The problem becomes especially critical when you want to catch the attention of the audience, which can be every megabyte. But here, you can apply some life hacks.

For example, in one of our applications had to be sought in AR attractions in different cities around the world. To ease distribution, we used the geolocation of the user or directly specify what country and city he needs (which he was planning to go). Only after selecting the desired countries or cities, we load sights for the AR — and so significantly reduced the overall weight of the application.

3. AR is not too fast
The average term of development of AR applications is 4-6 months. That’s what will go this time:

preparation, coordination and detailing of TK — 1 month;

development (backend, frontend, design) — 2-3 months;

testing and release 1-2 months.

To prepare adequate TOR, will have to register from a million nuances — and this takes time. From content and locations, which will be in the quest, to an authentication method in the application and implementation details of AR.
The design is also not such a trivial task technically and divided by three:

to create and test raw frames (structure, fields, buttons),

then work on branding, logos and fonts

after the Union of the first with the second.

With development a little easier and then the process is built linearly, but due to the AR-component has to do the eye to changes in reality, which track the scouts.

Quick checklist: how to create your application in AR
Plan how you will work with people in the field. Such people need a lot, and you need to understand and how to employ them, and how to manage them.

Put more time on tests: including to revision after the release.

Discuss with developers how to simplify your app. Everything related to AR, just takes a decent place in the smartphone (and the distribution — long download)

If you want to use the AR Kit, forget about support for older smartphone models or outdated iOS. A lot of market share.

Get ready to spend at least 4-6 months to develop

Materials on the subject:

To swim with the sharks without leaving home: how VR and AR are used in the tourism and restaurant business
Why is VR and AR have not changed our lives? Seven barriers to technology development
Virtual classes, learning games, and simulations for training: how will VR and AR change the training
How Apple could reinvent the interface with the AR As I forced the world to talk about the AR application, which was written alone at home

Cover photo: Unsplash

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