We were interested in sharing content with other people in the AR world. While applications such as Pokemon Go enable several users to find the same AR objects, it does not enable the user to insert their own creations or items into the AR world.
What it does
RadAR allows users to place AR objects in the world around them with messages, and gives others a treasure map to find these objects.
How we built it
We used Swift and ARKit, a framework from Apple for building augmented reality mobile apps, on the client-side, and Python to create two endpoints -- one was RESTful and the other used WebSockets for better performance -- and a SQLite database on the server-side. Our iOS front-end communicates with the backend to store and re-load previously stored AR objects.
Challenges we ran into
We initially faced difficulty with enabling different user's devices to update simultaneously as others posted new content, but were able to use WebSockets to optimize for this real-time sync. Otherwise, we faced some problems initially getting the ARKit framework to produce anchored AR objects that resized as users moved closer or further away from them. We were able to solve this problem through a different library function in the ARKit API, called ARAnchor. Working on the app was a deeply iterative process that enabled us to get much more familiar with the technologies we used.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud to have been able to build something that really empowers the user beyond what most other AR applications have done -- only allowing users to consume content, rather than go out and create it (Pokemon Go is an example of this). Our application enables the user to create content and leave traces of themselves wherever they go, for both themselves and others to find later.
What we learned
Beyond technical exposure to new frameworks and APIs, we learned about hacking together vastly different technologies to make the app work. Some of our group members had exposure to some of the technologies we ended up using, but none had prior knowledge of all of them, and moving through the learning process by building this project together was really empowering.
What's next for RadAR
We think a possible use case could be a game or interactive map on college campuses, given 1. the tightly knit communities, and 2. the scaled-down geographical areas. Students could leave different messages and AR objects across the campus for purposes ranging from sheer boredom, to sharing relevant information with potential students during campus tours.