Proprietary AR authoring systems

Listed in increasing order of difficulty:




Allows trackerless AR.  By selecting a 2D image as in a magazine or postcard, a 3D object can be superimposed and manipulated.

Augment for Print allows Publishers and Brands to addAR 3D objects to print and signage. Users scan your printed materials with the free Augment app and instantly view 3D images and content on top of it. 

There is no requirement to create a personal Channel, although augmentations can be set as Private or Public.


See Step by step guide to using Augment




Layar is a Dutch company which started in 2010.

The Layar application makes use of the following:

  • Accelerometer
  • Built-in camera
  • Compass
  • GPS

These are used in combination to identify the user’s location and field of view. From the geographical position, the various forms of data are laid over the camera view, as if inserting an additional layer.

Layar has grown from 1000 layers July 2010 to 40,000 layers by June 2013. The Layar app available for mobile devices allows access to the AR files created using the Layar Creator online site. Users can also scan QR codes, view and navigate to locations nearby, and learn more about these locations using the Layar data. They can also share these with friends on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or via Email.

Layar has published a magazine as a showcase of features. 

The major thrust the company takes is using AR as a means of bringing ‘print to life’. Catalogs, brochures, business cards and magazines are enabled with augmented videos, active web links, images and audio. The product is free, with ads or $20 ad-free and with statistical data.

Layar is one of the easiest apps for a novice to build their own AR without prior experience of AR.

See Step by step guide to using Layer



Available as an SDK or as a free app for iOS and Android mobile devices, Aurasma's image recognition technology uses a smartphone's or tablet's camera to recognize real world images and then overlay rich media on top of them in the form of animations, videos, 3D models and web pages. Businesses and users use Aurasma to create & share their own augmented reality experiences as well as discover digital content around them, with teachers among the most active group using the platform.

Despite Jonathan Margolis of the Financial Times describing Aurasma as "ambitious but staggeringly useless", the criticism can equally be levelled at competing systems.  

Most AR systems are tools awaiting  final detailing, and the development of applications suited to user needs rather than novelty.

Aurasma's Handbook provides an excellent outline of technical issues involved in creation of effective AR.

Some of the development issues extant in systems such as Aurasma are apparent from the following snippet of an Aurasma forum:

Why aren't there more options for sources of overlays? The only options i see are aurasma, and my iphone... why can't we for example, add an overlay video from YouTube or overlay photo from a Google image search or some other online source?? 

JK jevinr
We don't offer that as this time. Partly this is so that we can control the format of videos etc, and ensure that they will play well in Aurasma, since Aurasma places unique demands on devices, requiring to play video at the same time as track images, render in perspective etc. However, we understand how more options are convenient for users, and should look to review this in future.
Note that if you can get an image or video into your phone's gallery (or access in a valid file format from your computer if you have Aurasma Studio), then you can use this in Aurasma.
I hope this helps,

Postby jevinr » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:14 pm

Yeah this product is a case were the technology works but it lacks the ease of access feature of just being able to essentially tag the world with YouTube videos. It would be so good if companies, and users alike could use this feature. No one wants to upload videos to their device specifically for this purpose. But if I could just tag my own or other pre existing videos, the we have something. 

The product is fun to use because of this companies would even get free advertisement I am sure people would go around tagging movie posters with trailers and so on. It would allow educational institutes such as museums to have their content online but also tagged in their museums, people could take an iPad around for a video guided tour. YouTube just makes it easier, it allows people to maintain one place for all their video content. And it gives user greater freedom in what they have available to tag. 

There really shouldn't be any legal side to YouTube your not claiming ownership to a video only creating link to it. No dIfferent to a hyperlink only this time the button is located in augmented reality and your browser is aurasma, your HTML code is a photo and your browsing he real world.

Postby AnneC » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:19 pm

Is it possible to print on a small product such as a mousepad or calendar? I run a promotional products company, and would love to offer this to my clients. Can we (or they) create an aura, print it on something and then send to their clients to promote their business? Would we print the web link or the image? Or is this even possible? Love it! Thanks for any advice you can give.
Regarding Youtube etc - we hope to being more options to users in future. There is already the option to use blinkx videos, but we realise there is more content out there!
Regarding mousepads, calendards etc - yes! Aurasma currently is optimised to recognise flat images with plenty of detail. The scale of the image doesn't matter, as long as it is in focus. We recommend testing out any trigger images before mass producing them of course. The web link should be opened on the phone to subscribe to the aura. Therefore you might want to host these on your website and direct users to your website where they can click the link, since full share links are quite long and hard to type in.

Postby AnneC » Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:41 pm

See  Step by step guide to using Aurasma

Wikitude Studio



Wikitude Studio is a web-based IDK  with drag and drop functionality allowing for up to 1000 target images offline. The tool functions as a Content Management System and supports images, animation, 3D and video overlays.

Wikitude offers a free trial of their Studio product and a sliding pricing scale dependent upon the number of images starting at $10AUD per month for 3 images to over $200AUD per month for 100 images.



Metaio is an AR company that offers Metaio Creator as a tool for non programmers to create AR scenes.

Metaio offers Junaio as a free AR mobile browser which has many additional features to Layar.  It offers sophisticated interaction with the real world environment as well as gaming. It has, however,  a more primitive development environment and a steeper learning curve for newcomers. 

Metaio's Creator Demo mode is limited in access and to two media items and pricing is expensive: hundreds per month or thousands outright.

It uses images and published materials or real-life objects as targets for 2D, audio, links and 3D content. The GUI and registration processes are convoluted.



buildAR enables you to create projects that can be published as a channel on Junaio - an Augmented Reality Browser".  Launched in 2009, buildAR was the world's first AR Content Management System (AR-CMS). 

The latest major release of buildAR (version 3) was launched in November 2012. It offers full integration with the web, simplified editing, 3D in a web browser preview and control over animation and interactions. BuildAR has partnered with Metaio and now supports the Junaio and Metaio SDK platforms for native AR applications.



Offers integration with Unity 3D engine.

String features an emphasis on animated 3D and interactive 3D elements.

String offers two approaches for creating AR:  using Unity (preferred by String), or by using OpenGL.  The steep learning curves for these two approaches are indicated by the opening paragraphs of their respective String tutorials.


This manual explains how to add StringTM to a new or existing project. It requires experience with Cocoa Touch and OpenGL ES. All of the example code can be found in full working form in the tutorial project.

The first thing you do is to add these three files from the Libraries and Headers folders of the StringTM SDK to your Xcode project: libStringOGL*.a, StringOGL.h and TrackerOutput.h. You also need to add the frameworks AVFoundation, CoreGraphics, CoreMedia and CoreVideo.

The class in your app which owns the StringOGL instance, normally a view controller, needs to include StringOGL.h and implement the StringOGLDelegate protocol. This protocol has only one required method, render, in which you perform your own rendering.

Please note that the iOS simulator is not supported by StringTM, as it lacks a camera API. The String library requires iOS 4.0 or newer. 


This guide takes you through adding StringTM for iOS to a new or existing Unity project. It requires some knowledge of Unity. If you’d like to jump right in, the SDK comes with a Unity tutorial project that’s ready to run.


  • Unity 3.5 or newer for iOS. With the Pro version (which allows editor plugins) on OS X, you get StringTM preview functionality in the Unity editor. Please note that because of the nature of String’s integration with Unity, we can’t guarantee forward compatibility with future Unity releases. We’ll be responding to any compatibility issues ASAP, and issuing updates whenever necessary.

  • The latest Xcode and iOS SDK.

  • A valid development provisioning profile. Please go to the iOS Dev Center for more info.

  • If you’re planning on using String’s preview tool, please install Unity Remote for iOS.

  • The String library requires iOS 4.0 or later. 



Italian company Inglobe Technologies' ARMedia was an early entrant in the provision of tools for non programmers to create AR experiences.  More compelling was the ability to do so within one of the most easy-to-use free 3D design applications: Google Sketchup, now Trimble SketchUp.

The requisite plugins can be purchased and installed, allowing the output of an Augmented marker based scene and the design of the required markers.  The scenes are viewed using their free player.

A player is available for both mobile and desktop systems, however multiple markers are currently only supported by the desktop player.

Plugins are now available for the following software:

Summary table of AR authoring app features 

AR Product

Ease of use

Marker generationtriggered by imagetriggered by locationiOSAndroidBlackberryoverlay
overlay videoCost for AR authoringComments
Augment1NAXXXXhighsimple 3D authoring with limit to one tracker in free iOS version, more by joining
Layar1NAXmediumfree with ads but $20USD per page, statistics offered; SDK available for 3D
Wikitude Studio2NAXhighsliding scale up to $200AUD per month. Web based
Aurasma Studio2NAXhighfree for non wrapped apps; SDK available
ARMedia2XXXmediummarker creation tool, plugins for SketchUp 3D models
Metaio Creator + Junaio browser3NAXhighfree to try limited to two items; SDK available
BuildAR?NAXmediumcontent management
String3XXXhighUnity 3D engine for models, integrates well with Unity


Open source systems

  • Argon, augmented reality browser that uses a mix of KML and HTML/JavaScript/CSS to allow developing AR applications; any web content (with appropriate meta-data and properly formatted) can be converted into AR content; as of November 2011, available for iPhone only.
  • ARToolKit, an open source (dual-license: GPL, commercial) C-library to create augmented reality applications; was ported to many different languages and platforms like Android, Flash or Silverlight; widely used in augmented reality related projects.
  • ATOMIC Authoring Tool, a multi-platform authoring for creating AR applications on Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems.
  • GRATF, open-source (GPLv3) project, which includes C# library for detection, recognition and 3D pose estimation of optical glyphs. The project includes application, which does 2D and 3D augmented reality
  • mixare (mix Augmented Reality Engine), open-source (GPLv3) augmented reality engine for Android and iPhone; works as an autonomous application and for developing other implementations
  • PTAM, non-commercial use only.
  • DroidAR, open source (dual-license: GPLv3 or commercial) augmented reality framework for Android, featuring location based and marker based AR.

AR Development Toolkits

  • metaio SDK offers free natural features tracking and 3D tracking that is available for Android, iOS and Microsoft Windows.
  • String offers commercial implementation of AR apps for iOS using either OpenGL and Unity3D based SDKs.  A Showcase site illustrates its potential.
  • Vuforia Augmented Reality SDK, formerly known as QCAR, is a Software Development Kit for creating augmented reality applications for mobile devices.
  • VYZAR is a cross-platform SDK for iOS and Android, with both an Augmented Reality and 3D engine
  • Wikitude The Wikitude SDK is a library which can be embedded in native third party application Android, BlackBerry_10 and iOS, which uses web technologies to create the Augmented Reality content.

AR Content Management Systems

  • metaio Creator, a desktop tool to create and publish AR scenarios.
  •, a web based content platform for building geolocation and natural feature tracking based mobile augmented reality.
  • Hoppala Augmentation, a web based content platform for creating geolocation based mobile augmented reality.
  • Webcam Social Shopper, web based software for integrating apparel visualization on e-commerce sites.
  • , A website for trying out wearable apparels visualization on e-commerce sites.
  • ''PLAKAR | AUGMENTED REALITY, web based platform for for the augmentation of printed materials and Out of Home Media.


other is the proprietary AR app for the Times of India

A comprehensive comparison table of AR apps and SDKs


Miscellaneous tutorials

How to create AR on a Mac in 5 minutes


How to create AR apps using ARToolkit

  • No labels