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Mobile AR is an expanding business area that provides engaging customer experiences, which are very useful for marketing purposes. Mobile AR applications can display the AR content on their screens as a hologram allowing users to open a brand new 3D world with their smartphones. For the travel industry, this is a real benefit that allows agencies to stand out from the competition.

Let’s take a look at using AR in the travel industry and consider a case study of mobile applications that feature augmented reality to engage travel customers and increase customer retention.

How AR is Transforming the Travel Industry

The development of the travel and tourism industry in recent years has been heavily driven by technological advances that have resulted in booking websites, video blogs, travel photography, virtual tours and other innovations like DAM for the travel industry. Covid-19 has also taken its toll on the already transforming tourism and travel area. Throughout the lockdown, many travel agencies have been able to keep their audiences connect with them through augmented reality travel experiences.

According to Statista, there will be 2.4 billion mobile AR users by 2023, and this is not surprising. All users need to access the AR world is a smartphone. Realizing this, companies are investing in the creation of AR-powered solutions and mobile applications that can increase customer engagement, improve user experience and boost sales.

In the travel industry, AR has many use cases. For example, augmented reality is often used to promote travel destinations. TAP Airlines has created an augmented reality portal to take its customers to Lisbon’s famous square and advertise city tours. Users could step off the TAP virtual plane and view the famous European city. This type of promotion is much more effective than annoying ads.

Also, AR is used for navigation, city tours, gamified virtual tours, interactive hotel elements and more. According to AllTheResearch, the AR/VR in the travel and tourism market is expected to reach $304.4 million by 2023.

Project Overview: Increasing Customer Engagement with AR

Augmented reality technology is an enhanced visualization method that can be used on mobile phones to place digital overlays on top of real video or photos taken by the smartphone camera. The MobiDev developers created an iOS and Android downloadable application with intriguing augmented reality (AR) features using animation overlays and in-app ticket booking capability.

Users of this system can get information about places of interest by simply pointing their camera phones at the site. While using a mobile phone, this AR-enhanced discovery creates what is called the “wow” effect. This fascinating experience, in turn, increases customer engagement and ticket sales.

The project was an integral part of the client’s marketing campaign. The app attracted significant media attention, which the client converted to business expansion and other opportunities.

Solutions Summary: Smooth Augmented Experiences Powered by Advanced Technologies

The key challenge of the project was to provide an immersive augmented reality experience even when using a mobile phone in less than optimal conditions. The system had to give a smooth response even when the WiFi or GPS signal strength was low.

Moreover, the application had to work with static scenes and moving scenes. The AR display had to work when a mobile phone captures real images from any transportation. The developers needed to get the application running smoothly from a car, a train, or through the windows of an aeroplane while the transportation is in motion.

To solve this challenge, the MobiDev augmented reality app developers cleverly combined several technology solutions to build a customized application on top of the ARKit. The business need drove the project’s solution.

Using a Combination of The Best AR Frameworks

Apple’s ARKit competes with Google’s ARCore software. These software development kits were first released in 2017, setting the standards for mobile AR and making it easier to create mobile AR apps. The industry standards propelled developers to make new apps for AR-enabled devices as the number of those devices more than doubled.

Even though the release of these platforms happened at almost the same time, software developers prefer ARKit. ARKit is the dominant choice with nearly ten times the user base when compared to ARCore. Nevertheless, both frameworks can create engaging AR as overlays for real-world environments. The MobiDev development team is skilled in both ARKit and ARCore, which they used for this project.

Applied Technologies

Here is a list of methods, tools, and software used in the AR travel app development process that helped the development team achieve the goals of the project.

For iOS devices: ARKit, CoreMotion, GLKit, SceneKit, Swift 4.0, VIPER Architecture

For Android devices: ARCore, Google Mobile Vision API, Java, MVP Architecture, Rajawali, SensorManager

Hardware: Camera, GPS Module, Gyroscope, Magnetometer

Third-Party Apps: Statistics, Tourist Data

For Project Management: Agile Management Framework, AR Testing, UI/UX Design

The Future of Multi-User AR Experiences

Although not used for this project, it is interesting to understand where further AR development might lead. Another exciting advancement for AR is enabling shared experiences. Shared AR produces a scene that multiple users recognize from their position in relation to real-world objects. This positioning effort uses ARWorldMap.

ARWorldMap creates a snapshot of the spatial mapping based on the information it receives from the users’ devices. AR objects, rendered in 3D, are then mapped onto the view of the terrain, just like real objects are shown. When executed well, this process allows creating a shared virtual space with seamless user interactions.

The high interactivity created by multi-user AR is another effective marketing tool that has the potential to generate even more customer engagement.

Wrapping Up

Developing travel mobile applications with augmented reality features can enhance user experience and drive brand awareness. However, the creation of such solutions can be accompanied by certain challenges related to app performance. Expert AR developers will help you to overcome these problems using the best toolset that meets your business needs. Implemented correctly augmented reality becomes a real competitive advantage for any tourism or travel company.