The Cost of Augmented Reality: a Comprehensive Guide
🗣 So, you are thinking of creating an innovative AR app for your business, and your top concern is how much augmented reality costs.
A quick answer is anything, from a few thousand dollars for a straightforward AR app to $300,000 and more for a feature-rich, custom AR solution. The devil is in the details.
Roughly speaking, as with any IT project, the cost of your AR solution will total the number of hours worked by your development team multiplied by their hourly rates, plus additional expenses. Software development rates vary from one country to another, averaging out at US$30 to US$150 per hour. Additional expenses will depend on the proverbial details.
What factors play a bigger role? Let’s dive in…
🗣 This factor can have a big impact on AR app development costs and while AR is relatively new on the market, you would be surprised how many types of AR app types exist to choose from.
☑ Location-based AR: Location-based AR is a type of AR that is tied to a specific location. It could be anything from a specific GPS coordinate to a place like a landmark or a store. When someone opens up an AR app and points their phone at that location, they will see AR content specific to that spot. Some technologies used in location-based AR include using digital compasses, GPS, accelerometers, and other tools to identify a particular location.
☑ Marker-based AR: As the name suggests, the marker-based augmented reality applications work by scanning the marker system will recognize and show the solution developed to the customers. Based on this process, this type of AR app is also called recognition-based AR or image recognition. Such apps can be pretty easy to build, taking one to three months.
☑ Marker-based AR with animation: Like the previous type explained, this AR app also works by recognizing a marker that sends signals to the system. It is worth mentioning in this article because the animated solution will always affect the cost of development. Conversely, the simple solution showing audience text and pictures will be more accessible regarding cost.
☑ Markerless: Markerless AR application is the one that doesn’t require any physical marker to turn on the system. It can work from any place or time, depending on when the user wants to use it. This application doesn’t need information about the user’s environment to overlay the virtual content into the real world.
☑ Projection based AR: Projection-based AR refers to extending and reinforcing visual data by displaying the 3D objects and images on the selected surface. The projection-based solution uses projectors to show the 3D content to the users. Projector mapping techniques make use of any additional devices unnecessary, and, consequently, the solution is more accessible to the people.
☑ Superimposition-based AR: One great thing about superimposition-based AR is that it capitalizes on object recognition above anything else. The crucial feature is that this AR type fully replaces 3D images and visuals over the original image. Since this type has a wide range of use cases, it can be applied in tours, medical applications, and more.
☑ Outlining-base AR: The outlining-based augmented reality applications are used frequently in the car industry, for instance, to invent something that can help with safe driving. This type of AR solution can help human eyes to see boundaries and outlines of objects when the environment might suggest troubles in vision.
☑ SLAM AR: Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) lies at the core of AR applications. It allows the system to recognize where the 3D object will be situated for the user to see. SLAM allows locating the device and creating a map of the environment where the user is situated.
While essentially there’s little cost difference between the two pure types of AR, augmented reality app prices begin to rise for different combinations of AR technologies.
On top of that, your app may need advanced AR software, like object tracking for marker-based AR or occlusion handling, or multi-user experiences for markerless AR, which will drive up the AR app price. The more complex its functionality is, the more time and niche skills coding will require.
🗣 How does content influence augmented reality app development cost?
The type of development is only the first step in determining the cost of the AR solution. What you want users to see, and experience is also a significant influence.
The most common types of AR content are:
- Video. You can show 2D videos to your audience with any information you want them to know. It may be suitable for advertising or as a part of the event.
- 3D Model. The common use of AR is placing 3D models into the real environment. Companies often turn to this solution when planning product launches, making important announcements, or, in general, wanting to attract attention to the brand.
- Animation. 3D animation allows placing animated objects or even telling the whole animated story to the real world using devices. This solution is more complex, certainly impacting the final augmented reality price.
- 360 Video. This type of content immerses people into the most authentic experience of 360 videos. It’s costly but allows users to take the most out of using the application.
The complexity of the AR app
A general rule of thumb is that AR’s project complexity determines the final price estimations. The more layers that go into creating the right image, the more time it will take for the developers to create the solution. There is also a point worth mentioning – the longevity of the project. It takes some time to make a model or animation to show people only once, but it takes even more time and energy to create and maintain something lasting. For instance, AR games take a lot of time to strategize, plot, create, analyze and maintain. However, they result in a unique project.
Why do software licenses influence the cost of AR projects?
Developing an application is not enough because making it accessible to your target audience is another important task. People use different devices and browsers, each of them requiring different approaches.
👉 Unity: Unity was first developed for the Mac OS X game engine, which is prevalent in supporting different desktop, mobile and virtual technology developments. It is considered an easy solution for beginner game developers, so many companies choose it. To use Unity Pro, a company subscription to the latest set of tools, you will have to give $1800 per year.
👉 ARToolKit: It’s a software library for the development of AR apps. The unexpected bonus is that the software is free to use. You can take advantage of the free version and then upgrade to get more features if you’d like.
👉 Vuforia: Some developers turn to Vuforia engine, which is as popular and powerful as Unity. Vuforia aims to specialize in industrial enterprise solutions and meet the workforce challenges with technology. Using computer vision to recognize and track 3D images helps position the images in real life.
👉 Kudan: If you want to create your first AR application, it might be good to turn to the smaller software developers, such as Kudan, rather than choose the most popular ones using which the AR could cost more. Apart from the business license that costs $1500 per year, Kudan offers an enterprise license that can vary in price — to get it, you should contact the company directly.
👉 Apple ARKit: Apple developed an AR kit explicitly programmed for the applications created for iOS. The only downside will be that the users of other platforms won’t have a chance to experience your application. Using Apple ARKit is free for users that have Developer Program accounts that cost $99.
👉 Google ARCore: Google created the platform were making augmented reality applications never seemed more manageable. Especially helpful that Google integrates with Unity, Apple, and Android software programs. If you have an Android platform, you can use Google ARCore for free.
👉 EasyAR: AR cloud solution that allows making the whole landscape worlds in virtual reality, EasyAR, as the name suggests, makes the process simple. You can work with the application for free if you plan to use it for personal purposes. However, if you want to buy a license, it will cost you $1399. You have to buy it only once and use it permanently.
👉 Maxst: Maxst offers almost all required features for the developers, including image and marker tracking, barcode readers, and SLAM. You can get a Maxst package for a one-time purchase for $699 or subscribe for $49.9 per month.
🗣 Now that you know how much AR can cost, you should consider all factors described above. However, in calculating those factors, you should remember that they will vary in location and complexity.
For instance, a simple AR application will cost from $7 000 to $50 000 to make, whereas, for the one with a more complex structure, content, and system, you would have to spend up to $200 000.
The most complex AR applications are augmented reality games. When they are more complex, they are more costly. For making those, be ready to spend a higher price, starting from $250 000.
Depending on the location, you will also find the costs vary. The rate of specialists in different countries is slightly different.
Specialists from the USA and Canada ask for the most significant hourly pay — from $100 to $250.
🗣 Augmented reality is viewed as a technology still in its infancy but with a very bright future ahead.
AR is already pushing new frontiers in healthcare, engineering, and live events, the industries where the highest growth in revenue from AR solutions is expected in the next couple of years. Also, we should prepare for AR advances in retail and education as companies are struggling to deliver unique and engaging experiences to younger, tech-innate generations and provide remote cooperation options.
The global Augmented Reality Market size is expected to grow from USD 22.5billion in 2021 to USD 88.4 billion by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 31.5% from 2021 to 2026.
Since augmented reality exploded in popularity with the Pokémon Go launch in 2016, we’ve barely scratched the surface. This will change, as AR technologies are advancing and becoming pretty much affordable today.