Markerless or Anchor-based AR? Choose wisely.

Are you thinking about creating an AR experience but not sure what kind of AR you should look for? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Anchor-based AR. Source: Hololink

You need to understand some AR concepts and decide what fits your business objectives best. Let’s begin.

What’s the difference between Markerless AR or Anchor-based AR?

To start an AR experience, you’ll need to enable your camera so its sensors can recognize the surroundings and decide where to display the AR layer. When the technology is looking for an anchor (also sometimes referred to as “marker”), a process of recognition and tracking will begin. The software has a reference of the anchor image, so it will look for it. When it finds it, the 3D model, video, or animation will start on top of it. The anchor image could be in a printed ad, product packaging, or any surface where you can display an image. Sometimes it can also be a body part or even a 3D object. For example, in the GIF that you can see above, the anchor image is the newspaper page.

On the other hand, markerless AR allows to display the AR content without anchor images. The AR content will appear to be floating in the air or placed in relation to a surface if done using SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) technology, which identifies different points in the surroundings to understand the device’s position. This way, the 3D models seem to be standing exactly on the ground or any other surface.

Markerless AR. Source: Giphy

Which one is better? It depends on your marketing strategy.

To decide whether to use one or the other, you’ll need to clearly understand what you want to achieve in terms of branding, reach, and customer journey.

When having an anchor image, getting mass distribution is possible but takes more time because it will depend on whether the consumer is in front of the anchor. However, it will create a closer link between the brand and the consumer. Imagine you’re drinking a beer and you can point your smartphone camera at the bottle’s image, then, a fun AR game will entertain you and your friends. When the anchor is printed in the real product, the link between the product, the brand, and the AR content will be obvious for the consumer. In the end, it will enhance their whole consumption experience.

On the other side, markerless AR experiences are easier to distribute because they don’t depend on the consumer having the anchor handy. The AR experience can start by clicking on a link and enabling the camera, and the content will be placed directly in the users’ environment, no matter where they are. This way, it can be easily distributed on social media or any digital platform, which will increase the number of people who can access the experience. The shareability opens the door to possible viral campaigns.

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It’s important to think about what would be best for your type of product. If it’s consumer packaged goods, AR with anchor images in the packaging makes more sense. In the moment of truth, when consumers are in the supermarket analyzing options, they could scan a QR code on the product, enable the camera and see an interactive AR layer that shows each of the ingredients, and by clicking on each one, they can have more information. This AR content could help convince the consumer that it is the best option. If it’s eCommerce, then it makes more sense to have a markerless experience. A markerless experience enables the consumers to see the product they consider buying directly in their home environment.

Now you know what to consider when planning an AR content strategy. Markerless or anchor-based, AR can help you create an interactive experience that will catch consumers’ attention and make them participate actively with the content to receive something valuable, which ultimately can result in better brand loyalty.

At Hololink we help you create interactive AR experiences without knowing how to code and develop apps.

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Markerless or Anchor-based AR? Choose wisely. was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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