This year we’ve taken on a new TTT Studios initiative that focuses on enhancing our skills, supporting best practices, and promoting creativity. We call it our Greenhouse Projects—where the team collaborates to nurture, explore, and test ideas.
Our recent Greenhouse Project focused on developing augmented reality (AR) business cards. AR is one of the technologies many of us at TTT are interested in working with. We decided to focus on AR to actualize some of the ideas we have in our repository and to explore the possibilities and limitations of software development kits (SDKs) available today.
Why AR over physical business cards?
Business cards conveniently summarize all your essential details; they’re great for growing your network and building your personal brand. However, business cards have also become an oversaturated and dated networking method; additionally, negative environmental impacts are involved. With so many other means of sharing personal and business information, there should be a better way of creating a lasting impression, and that’s where AR cards come in.
There is a sea of opportunities in AR technology, with many usages yet to be explored. As we move closer to the metaverse, physical business cards are just one of the many day-to-day items that can be enhanced using innovative technology. Implementing AR solutions to business cards can take your marketing to another level. It allows us to mix real and virtual worlds by combining animations, interactions and 3D objects into an experience that can create quite an impression.
The creation process
I was super excited to get started on this AR project! I had seen demonstrations of AR tech and SDKs at tech conferences. Still, the actual development experience was always a black box to me. I was curious to know how advanced these libraries had gotten over time and how challenging it would be to develop an AR app. I also wanted to understand how AR development on different platforms stands against each other.
My team and I developed the AR business card app, which detects a TTT business card and displays information about the company and the team member when either side is focused. The company information includes a video that gives you a tour of TTT, some of the projects we’ve developed and our rating from Google. The other side displays additional details about the card bearer, such as their photo and links to their email, phone number and LinkedIn profile.
All you need to do is open the app and focus your camera on either side of a TTT business card. The app will scan for and display relevant information accordingly.
Learning outcomes: Developing with AR software
I. What library did we use for our AR business card?
When developing our AR business card, we wanted to start by exploring React Native’s capabilities with XR before jumping on to native stacks and Unity. We used a library named Viro React to develop the AR business card. Predictably, the library has web-like components that make it easy for developers from a web or React Native background to get up and running with it. They do a great job of explaining XR concepts such as scenes, 3D object rendering, anchors, etc., and their SDK is fantastic for someone new to development for XR.
II. What are the pros & cons of the library used?
The ease of use of the library is one of the biggest pros. I think they’ve got quite a comprehensive API that includes its own scene navigator, image recognition and plane detection engine that uses ARKit (Apple) and ARCore (Google) internally.
Some of the cons, in my opinion, were the low accuracy of the image recognition engine, the iOS-only limitation for the object detection API, low FPS and performance issues with tracking anchors. Since the library is now maintained by the open source community instead of ViroMedia, the documentation is incomplete, with broken links in some places. There aren’t many issues being actively discussed within the community either.
III. What are our future recommendations?
I’d recommend React Native and Viro React as a starting point to someone who works with React Native or is new to development with XR. The library can be a good fit for use cases with small-to-medium complexity. One will also have to consider if they’re developing an app with an AR component like Google Maps or a full-blown AR app like Pokemon Go.
Unlocking the potential of AR solutions
AR technology has been integrated into almost every industry, from retail and e-commerce to education and training; we see it everywhere. It has the potential to transform the way we share, learn, and sell. Funny enough, AR business cards are just one component of it all.
Seeing the potential of AR solutions makes me excited to continue testing XR capabilities. Here at TTT, we’ve got a strong mobile and Unity team, and so enhancing our XR to our skillset can only elevate the grade of solutions developed by TTT.
About TTT Studios
TTT is an award-winning Digital Innovation Studio focused on creating digital solutions for more than 200 clients worldwide. Working with industry leaders and disruptors, we solve our client’s most complex problems, shaping their businesses through technology.
For more information on TTT Studios, please visit: ttt.studio.