Selecting an Augmented Reality provider: manage your content
After last week’s blog, we received comments that there are a lot more Augmented Reality providers out there that we did not mention in our blog. We tried to focus on the major platforms and the ones who don’t re-license the basic augmented reality software.
Some augmented reality providers hide which AR software they actually use. This could be a business risk for you as a client, so you have to know what they are using and what they will do if their technology provider pulls a ‘Metaio’ and is suddenly unavailable.
Last week we looked into the available user experience in augmented reality platforms. For today we will focus on the development side of augmented reality. Not all platforms are equally easy to work with and this will impact the time and budget of your project. If you don’t take the time to think things through it could even impact the quality of the user experience.
Augmented Reality Content Management
Most augmented reality platforms offer a Studio so you can create and manage the AR experience directly online. With publication of the content in their showcase app this is the easiest way to try out if you and your users like the augmented reality experience.
Pros and cons of using an AR Studio
However, if you are in it for the long run, you are probably better off not using a platform’s Studio for several reasons. First, once uploaded a Studio does not offer the possibility to retrieve your AR content. They own your content, if not legally then certainly practically. By using a Studio you enter a vendor lock-in. That this risk can become reality is something we have seen last month with Metaio.
Secondly, when you update your content regularly, you will find you need basic content management functionality like multiple editors, reviewing, planned publication, versioning and archiving. This is functionality that is hardly available in any current Studio, apart from planned publication with Aurasma or archiving in Layar.
Using a management API
The alternative to using a platform’s Studio is using your own content management system to publish to the AR platform via an API. You stay in complete control of your content and reduce the amount of manual work, which is always expensive and unfortunately error-prone. All major platforms offer a management API for uploading large amounts of targets.
The documentation for these API’s is sparse to say the least. Often you need a trial and error process to find out exactly which AR functionality is available and how you can use it.
If you take Augmented Reality seriously, you should also take your AR content seriously.
Implementing an API from your own CMS to an AR platform will require IT rescources. The implementation of an API should also be managed as custom software by your IT department. If your company does not have the in-house IT expertise you should consider using the services of a third party.
If you are still testing out augmented reality to find out what it can do for your company, try out any augmented reality provider that offers a Studio and showcase app. If you are ready for the next step and want to integrate the augmented reality channel in your standard operations, you need to invest in using a management API or use a third party provider that has already implemented the API.
AR content, AR content management, AR studio, aurasma, CraftAR, layar, management API, vuforia, wikitude