Augmented reality broadens the borders of the real-world environment and opens new opportunities for business. According to research by Digi-Capital, AR could surpass $70-75 billion in revenue by 2023, while the revenue for VR could be around $10-15 billion. The numbers speak for themselves.

AR’s popularity and forecasts of its further growth should motivate entrepreneurs to consider augmented reality app development in order to create a digital business. If you are among those who have ever contemplated this possibility, then you’ve probably thought about augmented reality app development cost as well.

In our article, we uncover the basics of AR development, talk about how to create augmented reality apps, and answer the question regarding augmented reality app development cost. After reading, you will be able to estimate your budget and the time needed for AR app development.

Augmented Reality App Development: Insight into the Technology

The concept of augmented reality is quite mature, as it was developed back in the 90s. However, only with the rise of computers, have augmented reality applications really become ubiquitous – for businesses and end users alike.

Prior to discussing augmented reality app development cost, let’s dive into the concept of AR development.

How Does Augmented Reality Work?

How AR Works
How AR Works

Before moving to more complex notions, we need to understand what augmented reality stands for and what AR development is.

Augmented reality is a technology that deploys a virtual image over real-world objects. It is a superimposition of a CG Image combined with the real world.

Superimposition occurs simultaneously with the input of visual data from a device like a camera or smart glasses. As a result of this, a user can see a combination of real-life objects and virtual things on the screen of a smartphone, tablet, TV, or other connected device.

How AR works:

  • The camera produces footage of real-life objects. This provides a foundation for the scene wherein augmented objects are placed.
  • The registration process, which depends on the type of AR application, figures out how to put an AR object in the picture.
  • The combined image is transmitted to the device where a user can see it.

Read the chapter “Main Types of Augmented Reality Apps” to learn more about how they work depending on their type.

What is the Difference Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality App Development?

AR vs VR
AR vs VR

Despite the distinguishing differences between augmented reality and virtual reality app development, these two terms are often confused.

So, how does AR differ from VR? Let’s clear the confusion before talking about augmented reality app development cost.

While AR applications allow 2D or 3D graphics elements to be put into a real-world environment and interact with it based on the position and orientation of the camera, VR technology creates an interactive artificial world for a user acting within a simulated environment.

How does augmented reality work on a mobile device?

Augmented reality works with the help of special algorithms and requires sensors to determine the position and orientation of the camera. All this makes it possible to render any 3D graphics at any location and see the content on a device’s screen. Thanks to technological progress, devices can determine the location of the graphic elements with high accuracy, so it is possible to interact with life-size models in real time, walk around them, come up to, move away from, or even go through them.

With regard to virtual reality, it also requires a lot of work with math algorithms and sensors. The distinction between the two lies deeper in the interaction with users. Virtual reality is a simulated environment where users are fully immersed and can see everything with their own eyes. Graphics react accordingly, moving together with the users so that they can experience a realistic environment comprehensively.

Both technologies have many application areas where they can bring real value. Let’s take a closer look at those of augmented reality.

Do you need to develop an app with Augmented Reality?

Our team will explain to you the details about the software development process with AR technology as well as estimate the project cost and timeline.

Receive a consultation & app estimate

Create Augmented Reality Apps: Areas to Explore

Augmented reality app development is a profitable field to explore for various types of businesses. According to predictions by Hackernoon, we will see the majority of advancements of AR technology in the healthcare industry. However, almost any area stands to benefit. Let’s find out how.

The Most Promising Industries for AR and VR
The Most Promising Industries for AR and VR

  • Medicine

AR has been taking root in this field for years. It has already been used in education by helping students learn anatomy, surgery techniques, and other relevant matters. Numerous apps have been designed to enable medical staff to provide better patient care. Companies in the healthcare industry utilize 3D augmented reality apps during surgeries and for diagnosis.

The development of augmented reality apps in healthcare is not just something trendy, but a real life-saving solution.

Find out more about app development for healthcare in our article Healthcare Mobile App Development: Types, Trends, & Features.

  • E-commerce

If you own an e-commerce company, then you might consider exploring the field of augmented reality app development. Augmented reality solutions improve customer loyalty by enhancing product previews.

For example, scanned images of products or any other triggers can activate additional multimedia content such as real-sized models of furniture, design attributes, or any other product your business deals with. You can also create some promotional video content to provide your customers with exhaustive infotainment.

The most vivid example of this sort of AR use is IKEA Place. IKEA’s augmented reality app is built on the augmented reality development kit ARCore and was designed to help users see how a piece of furniture will look like before purchasing.

The augmented reality app development cost may differ for these kinds of apps based on the set of features you provide.

  • Real estate and architecture

Real estate is another area where AR development is worth exploring. Apps that use augmented reality can showcase how buildings and construction projects will look in the real world. They can be of great help to architects presenting their designs in the form of 3D models or 2D drawings. The technology allows specialists to assess the aestheticism of their creation and how it may blend in with the surroundings.

The ARki app is a great example of how designers and architects can benefit from AR implementation.

  • Entertainment industry

When we talk about augmented reality app development, we can’t go without mentioning the entertainment industry. Games, movies, and other entertainment apps are a fruitful area to explore. If you decide to create augmented reality apps in this domain, remember that the augmented reality cost here is very high.

  • Tourism and travel

If you want to create augmented reality apps, be sure to think about the tourism industry. People enjoy seeing various information about locations and sites they visit in real-time on their smartphones. As an option, an app could reproduce historical events that took place in a given location centuries ago.

Find out more about app development for tourism in our article Mobile Travel App Development.

  • Education

Is there a better way to learn about new things than to see them with your own eyes? Augmented reality app development creates a unique opportunity to study anything – from tropical plants, to animals, to human organs.

AR apps could be a good additional solution for gaining new skills in different disciplines. As part of a traditional curriculum, these apps could facilitate further education by making students more interested in active learning.

For instance, educational reading materials could contain embedded markers that produce comprehensive multimedia content for learning once they are scanned by a device.

The cost to develop an augmented reality app like this may vary greatly, but the result is worth it, as such apps can be used for entertainment, homeschooling, and in educational institutions.

  • Military

The first augmented reality application in the military was created in 1992 at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Ever since, military personnel use AR to get access to data in real time via a pair of goggles.

These are just a few of the areas where you can create augmented reality apps and make a real impact on their development.

Augmented Reality App Development Cost: Influencing Factors

When you plan your budget for augmented reality app development, you need to consider a number of influencing factors. Below you will find information on the main types of augmented reality apps and the most popular SDKs that are used to create them.

Main Types of Augmented Reality Apps

Types of AR Apps
Types of AR Apps

You can’t start the app development process without first understanding the main types of AR apps, as they all influence the augmented reality app development cost in different ways.

Usually, the type of app is identified in accordance with the technology that underlies it. Based on this, all AR apps can be divided into the following three groups:

  • Marker-based AR apps

AR applications based on markers are not difficult to create. They require the use of trigger-markers that are placed in various locations in the real world. The triggers may be a QR-code, a card, an icon, or an image.

A user scans a trigger with a devices’ camera and the AR app projects an appropriate AR scene. These apps are a great way to recreate historical events or to tell the history of a famous building.

Various AR software development kits (SDKs) allow for the creation of marker-based AR apps, including, but not limited to, Vuforia, Wikitude, Kudan, and Maxst.

Marker-based augmented reality app development cost is the lowest among all the types of AR apps, as it does not require the implementation of difficult technologies.

  • Location-based AR apps

This type of AR app is based on data from GPS. These sensors provide information about a user’s location and place virtual objects in the real world. There is no need for markers or other triggers.

A great example of this kind of app is Pokemon GO, a famous game that stole the scene a couple of years ago.

If you choose this option, your location-based augmented reality app development cost will be a little higher, as these apps require the integration of GPS, a compass, and other sensors.

  • AR based on visual odometry

Unlike location-based AR apps, apps with visual odometry use complex algorithms and data received from multiple sensors. The associated camera images are used to identify a precise location and perform respective actions. ARKit and ARCore both use this technology.

These are the most difficult AR apps to develop as the augmented reality app development process is quite complex and challenging. This complexity will directly influence the augmented reality app development cost you will need to pay in this case.

ReVistor, the application developed by the MLSDev team, was created based on visual odometry.

SDKs for Augmented Reality App Development

The choice of SDK (software development kit) is another important factor to consider during app development. The use of an SDK allows you to avoid creating everything from scratch and instead use packages of software development tools. You can choose either paid or free AR tools.

Below, you can see the comparison table of some popular augmented reality creation software options:

Supported platforms Pricing 2D recognition 3D recognition Geolocation Cloud recognition SLAM
Vuforia Android, iOS, UWP, Unity Editor > $99/month + + - + +
Wikitude Android, iOS, Smart Glasses > 2490 €/year + + + + +
ARKit Android, iOS, Windows for tablets, smart glasses > $50/month + + + + +
ARcore Android 7.0+ and, iOS 11+ > $1990/app + + + + +
MaxST Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS > $50/month + + - - +
ARToolKit Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, Mac OS and Smart Glasses Free, open source + - - - -
Xzimg Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS Free- 2200€/unlimited number of apps + + - - -
EasyAR Android, iOS, Windows Free + - - - -
DeepAR PC, Android, iOS, Windows, WebGL Free or commercial (price is not specified) + - - - -

You can find more information on AR SDKs on the Socialcompare website.

The choice of AR development kit has a direct impact on the augmented reality app development cost formation process.

Services that Make Up the Augmented Reality App Development Cost

Augmented reality app development cost depends on many factors, including the type of app you develop, features you want to implement, and even the company you hire.

At MLSDev, the whole development process is divided into the discovery and development stages. The image below describes them in more detail:

Processes That Influence Augmented Reality App Development Cost
Processes That Influence Augmented Reality App Development Cost

Let’s take a closer look at each service that influences the formation of augmented reality app development cost.

Business Analysis

During this stage, a business analyst identifies business needs and determines the best solution for them. By combining data from various resources, our business analysts offer the best ways to implement the required functionality. Business analysis helps to create augmented reality apps that are competitive and bring value for end users.
With regard to augmented reality app development, business analysis might take up to 60-80 hours. This part of the discovery stage also influences augmented reality app development cost because a business analyst needs to conduct comprehensive research and give exhaustive recommendations.

Augmented Reality App Design

The work of a UX/UI designer depends on the conducted business analysis. Based on the data received from a business analyst, designers create UX and UI that meet the needs of end users, visualize all features, and make the interface user-friendly.

Due to the specifics of AR app development, designers’ tasks are not limited to UX/UI design strictly. AR apps rely on visual data and effects. Depending on the type of app you want to make, you may need to create animated images or 3D graphic models.

Design may become the most time-consuming part of the app development process and thus skyrocket the final augmented reality app development cost. This is because creating AR content in one of the most challenging and difficult tasks in the entire process.

Be aware that design stage may take up to one fourth of the whole amount of time spent on the development of an AR application.

Software Architecture Planning

This is also an integral part of the discovery stage that influences the final augmented reality app development cost. The cost here depends mostly on the type of app you want to develop and what features you intend to include. The time needed to build architecture for an AR application may take between 25 to 40 hours. The more complex the app is, the more time this phase takes up.

Project Management and Team Review

The main task of a project manager is to correlate the efforts of all of the other team members. A project manager takes on the whole planning process, sets priorities, controls task accomplishments, etc.

Project management accompanies the entire app development process, just like the process of team review. During the latter, the team reviews the progress of development and identifies which portions of the work need to be improved.

These two steps have a direct influence on the final augmented reality app development cost.

MLSDev team uses Agile methodology in the application development process. Read more about it in our article Agile SDLC: Skyrocketing Your Project with Agile Principles.

Early Planning

Early planning is a very helpful preparatory activity before the development (coding) itself. It usually lasts 1-2 weeks and its main goals are to create the API contract, prioritize tech tasks, and choose the most suitable development tools and practices for the project.

Of course, this step adds to the total augmented reality app development cost but it is vital for the further process.

Development

This is one of the main factors that influences augmented reality app development cost. Below you will find our very approximate estimates on the time needed to create augmented reality apps with a basic set of features.

Basic features Implementation time (in hours)
Development with ARKit (basic features and basic manipulation of objects like move, scale, and rotate) 150-170
Basic admin panel 20-30
Back-end (server-side data storage) 40-60
Log-in (email verification, password restoration, social media log-in, etc.) 40-50
User profile 10-20
User engagement feature (such as social sharing, reviews, comments) 10-20
Push notifications for updates, special deals, discounts, etc. 10-20
Menu 10-20

Once you decide to take your app further, you will need to add more complex features.

Below, you can find some of these features and the approximate time needed for their implementation:

Additional features Implementation time (in hours)
Room dimension scanning 40-60
A photo (screenshot) of the created AR scenes 10-20
Payment gateway integration (one or more) 40-50
Multi-language support 10-20
Analytics tools 10-20
Chats or forums, etc. 40-110
Different sound effects 40-60
Sync across devices (simultaneous use of app on a few devices) 40-60

There are also some features that are really challenging to estimate. If you decide to develop an AR app based on visual odometry, add a feature to change the color and shape of AR objects, or provide animation of AR scenes, this could add up to a few more months of development and increase the overall augmented reality app development cost.

Quality Assurance of AR applications

Quality assurance and testing are an integral part of AR app development that ensure everything works smoothly on different devices and that users won’t encounter any problems.

QA usually takes up one third of the time spent on development.

Augmented Reality App Development Cost: Total

So, how much does it cost to build an augmented reality app?

Based on the listed services and the above rough estimations, we can calculate a very approximate augmented reality app development cost.

Development of the first app version (basic features) Development of a more complex app version Development of a complex augmented reality app
~$50,000 - $80,000 ~$100,000+ ~$240,000+

Please note that the above augmented reality app development cost is an approximation. The cost of app development highly depends on the features you want to include in your app, the platform you choose, and the level of the augmented reality app development company you hire.

The above cost was calculated based on the average rate for app development companies in Eastern Europe ($40/hour).

If you choose to develop an app with some of the available paid SDKs, don’t forget to include that price into the final augmented reality app development cost.

MLSDev’s Experience in Augmented Reality App Development

Revistor App
Revistor App

Augmented reality is not just a fancy term at MLSDev. Our company has broad experience in building mobile applications - from a client’s idea to the fully functioning application.

MLSDev was immersed in the AR while working on ReVistor History – an AR application dedicated to the American Civil War and other historical events.

ReVistor allows users to relive famous historical events, such as battles, as they occur around them. In the spin-off application, reVistor - create 3D Augmented Reality, users can create their own 3D augmented reality scenes at the GPS locations they choose.

Our team helped the client with research, app design, and development. The creation of 3D models for the application was the most challenging and time-consuming part of the process.

You can check the reVistor case in our portfolio to learn about our work on the project in more detail.

Looking to estimate the cost to develop your augmented reality application?

MLSDev is a team of highly qualified professionals who have already successfully created augmented reality apps. We are ready to discuss your project, estimate your augmented reality app development cost, and bring your app idea to life.

Contact us

Frequently Asked Questions:

📈 What are the AR & VR market size predictions?
The study by Digi-Capital states that AR could surpass $70-75 billion in revenue by 2023. At the same time, the revenue for VR can reach around $10-15 billion. These numbers support the fact of the growing popularity of AR and VR and their utilization in software.
🤔 How does AR differ from VR?
The difference is simple. In augmented reality, some extra 2D or 3D elements are placed in a real-world environment to interact with via the position and orientation of the camera. Virtual reality implies the creation of a completely artificial world where users act inside a simulated environment.
⏳ How much time does it take to develop a basic AR app?
The timeline to create a basic AR app depends on the feature-set you want to include. The implementation of the basic functionality like development with ARKit, user authorization, user engagement features, push notifications as well as the server-side for data storage usually takes from 3 to 6 months.
🌟 What benefits will I get from outsourcing AR app development to Ukraine?
Ukraine offers the best price-quality ratio for web and mobile application development, including AR apps. The hourly rate for an engineer of the top expertise is around $30-50 an hour, meaning you could save anywhere from 20% to 60% of your budget (compared with local IT firms in the USA/ Europe with rates of $70-$100/hour). Besides, Ukraine has a great pool of talented tech engineers while IT outsourcing can give you the advantage of saved time, project and risks management, business and legal support.