Accessible augmented reality tools unlock new experiences for art, education, retail, and more.

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Creators are discovering new ways to tell immersive stories using augmented reality (AR). The adoption of AR is based on a new generation of applications, tools and technologies that democratize artistic creation and make virtual worlds instantly accessible to everyone. The evolution of AR from a novelty to an essential communication tool will open up new experiences for artists, teachers, buyers, travelers, students, and more.

A year ago, as the pandemic began to reshape our lives, I spoke to half a dozen AR artists to hear their take on the future of AR. Back then, augmented art was still a dark space, a niche branch of 3D illustration and design with an amateurish feel. The artists I spoke to were optimistic, but recognized the significant constraints of the medium. The pandemic has changed everything.

After a year at home, AR works exploded in popularity with creators and viewers. Traditional artists use this time to explore creation in augmented reality. Virtual experiences can recreate the places we love and expand the boundaries of the four walls we know a little too well. As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic armed with new technologies, how will AR shape our future?

Photos courtesy of Nadine Kolodziey

“The community seems more open and ready to dive into new virtual storytelling formats that are more stimulating, educational and not just passively consuming,” says Nadine kolodziey, an artist working in Berlin. Nadine’s latest work explores the potential of three tools that are poised to have a disproportionate impact on AR adoption: app clips, location anchors, and powerful yet accessible authoring tools.

In 2020, Nadine begins a collaboration with Scavenger, an AR creation and scavenger hunt storytelling platform to create “Walk Your Day”. In light of the pandemic, the experience encouraged viewers to get up and start the day productively and consciously through motivational visuals.

“By creating my first ‘Walk Your Day’ hunt, I was able to tell a story within my artistic aesthetic that works in dialogue with the user. This potential immediately caught my attention, ”says Nadine. Scavengar is one of the leading tools providing artists with a way to easily publish their AR creations with a low barrier to entry for viewers. Sharing AR art beyond flat videos and USDZ One of the major constraints in the adoption of AR has been the files embedded in websites. These barriers could dissolve.

For her second experience in augmented reality, “New Nature”, Nadine challenges viewers: “What is the new reality? A virtual garden and prompts along the way ask stimulating questions about life after the pandemic. “New Nature” is a geolocation experience playable in Bay Street, Los Angeles and Japantown, San Francisco. Scavegar is powered by Location anchors in ARKit 4, a technology that locks an AR creation to a specific latitude, longitude, and altitude.

Associating AR content with physical locations adds depth and context to virtual environments. Location Anchors provides opportunities for retailers, museums, schools, galleries and city streets to add value and guide their experiences. “If an experience has a place, a location, it is part of our world, even if the visual layer is manifested on a screen,” explains Nadine.

Geolocation experiences are of no value if they are difficult to activate. A buyer will not interact with an in-store experience that requires downloading a separate app or creating an account. Bulky technology shatters the delicate illusion that an artist builds to tell his story. It’s there that Application extracts in iOS 14 between.

The Scavengar team have created a special version of “New Nature” that you can try from home if you are not near Los Angeles or San Francisco. Scan the App Clip Code above to get started.

Scavengar and “New Nature” are some of the first AR experiences that can be triggered by simply scanning a QR code from your iPhone. You don’t need to grab the Scavengar app from the App Store to dive in. You don’t need to visit a web page and download a USDZ file. The experience begins almost as easily as stopping to read a sign or stream a video. It’s the combination of location anchors and app clips that makes augmented reality really start to feel transformative.

If you want to start creating augmented reality experiences, more resources and tools are available than ever before. I would recommend to start with this step by step guide created by Today at Apple, This is nice, and WWWesh Studio. The guide will walk you through the basics of creating and publishing a scene with Reality composer, Apple’s AR authoring tool. Scavengar also offers a series of getting started guides on their EDU website.


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