Augmented reality platform maker Zappar and its marker-based augmented reality technology have been around well before Apple and Google brought markerless AR to mobile apps.
But, as the saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them. On Thursday, Zappar unveiled ZapWorks Studio 6, which packs several new features designed to match the capabilities of ARKit and ARCore.
Chief among the new features is markerless world tracking, which supports surface detection functions of ARKit and ARCore-enabled devices. And, like AR Foundation in Unity, ZapWorks will enable developers to build for both platforms and deploy via a single project, rather than develop separate versions for iOS and Android.
In addition, ZapWorks adds facial tracking features that enable developers to build their own Snapchat-like effects. The tool also offers Sketchfab integration, which is a huge quality-of-life improvement for developers who rely on its vast library of 3D models.
"Sketchfab's mission has always been about making it as easy as possible to find, publish and share 3D content with the world, having Zappar (and ZapWorks Studio) as one of our key partners further expands this mission into the world of AR," said Sketchfab CEO Alban Denoyel in a statement.
ZapWorks Studio 6 also brings a web-based AR solution to developers and publishers, matching the AR Quick View feature in ARKit and the experimental web-based AR protocol from ARCore (not to mention the cross-platform web AR solution from 8th Wall Web, which has powered some high-profile AR marketing campaigns lately).
"This new update is our most impressive release to-date and makes ZapWorks Studio one of the most versatile and scalable AR platforms currently on the market, continuing our mission to build the most accessible, affordable and feature-rich toolkit for AR creators across the globe," said Caspar Thykier, CEO and co-founder of Zappar.
Despite the emergence of ARKit and ARCore, Zappar has managed to make a name for itself in marketing, particularly in retail and packaged goods, where scanned markers are easy to implement and actually beneficial in terms of point-of-purchase marketing. So far, Zappar has provided the AR experience behind marketing campaigns for 7-Eleven, the NBA's Sacramento Kings, Shackleton Whisky, and Wise Snacks, among others.
"ZapWorks Studio has become an essential tool for us to create engaging AR content for our clients — transforming their products, campaigns, and ideas into interactive experiences that generate engagement, spontaneous media, and financial return," said Peter Maddalena, director at VRCraftworks. "With every Studio upgrade, we are better equipped with the strategic tools to produce quality experiences while positioning ourselves as innovative and forward-thinking to our customers — a win-win situation."
However, with ARKit and ARCore adding image recognition capabilities that render QR code-based markers obsolete, Zappar faces even greater threats to its relevance. For now, the enhanced AR capabilities in ZapWorks Studio 6 enable Zappar to maintain a relatively even footing with competing AR toolkits, at least until Apple and Google unveil and release their next sets of enhancements to their respective platforms.
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