Web AR: A Guide to Web-based Augmented Reality

Web AR: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Implement It

Web AR (web-based augmented reality) lets digital customers experience immersive product previews on browsers without downloading an app. This helps increase customer engagement, traffic, and sales, multiplying revenue while reducing returns.

Here’s a quick start guide to what you need to know to start using AR for web marketing and sales. First, we’ll define what web AR is and how it works. Then we’ll look at three examples of web-based augmented reality in action. Finally, we’ll show you how to implement web-based AR quickly and easily to start increasing your engagement and sales.

What Is Web AR?

Web AR, short for web-based augmented reality, is a way of delivering online AR experiences directly through web browsers via a URL, QR code, or NFC tag. It contrasts with app-based AR, which requires viewers to download and install applications before experiencing AR. Web-based AR is designed primarily for smartphones, though it may be used on a desktop or other mobile devices such as laptops and tablets.

Web AR simplifies the process of delivering augmented reality experiences to customers. By removing the hassle of downloading an AR app, web-based AR makes it easier for customers to enjoy augmented reality experiences, enabling you to harness this powerful technology for 3D advertising and sales. You can deliver more engaging user experiences that provide more realistic previews of products, making shoppers more likely to buy and less likely to return items.

How Does Web AR Work?

To deliver augmented reality without requiring an app, web AR must provide the AR experience directly through a desktop or mobile browser.  This is achieved by integrating several key technologies:

  • 3D models simulate the movement of the viewer’s perspective along up-down, right-left, and forward-backward planes of motion (known as six degrees of freedom or 6DoF tracking)
  • Camera streaming allows the 3D model to be placed against the backdrop of a live feed from the user’s camera on their smartphone or other devices
  • Scene understanding is a technology that uses AI to analyze data from the user’s camera stream and interpret features such as spatial relations and lighting to integrate 3D objects with live environments
  • Cloud-based content management systems (cloud-based CMS) let companies tag and organize 3D content for delivery over the cloud through means such as URL links, QR codes, and NFC tags

To facilitate the use of AR technology, developers have created several AR frameworks. Some popular frameworks include:

  • ARKit, provided by Apple for development in iOS environments
  • ARCore, provided by Google for development in Android environments
  • Vuforia, a cross-development development platform that supports both iOS and Android as well as other options
  • js, an open-source framework that uses JavaScript
  • VNTANA combines web-based 3D and AR with cloud-based CMS to support the creation of digital showrooms and a 3D web viewerthat can be embedded in any platform using iFrame or APIs

Businesses can create, store, and share web-based AR content using these frameworks. Once you have a framework in place, you can use it to begin adding models of your product inventory and tagging them for digital storage and sharing.

Web-Based AR Examples

Now let’s take a look at a few web-based augmented reality uses in action:

Web AR Fashion Previews

One industry where web-based AR has proven effective is the fashion industry. AR enables shoppers to see clothing and apparel from multiple angles and test out how an item would look on them. For example, Italian retailer Diesel uses web-based AR to allow customers to select clothing items such as t-shirts and view them from different angles using a QR code.

Indoor Furniture and Decor

The same methods which make web AR suitable for previewing fashion also enable brands to deliver immersive experiences of indoor furniture and decor. Using an AR web browser, a customer can select a furniture item or a home décor item, view it in 3D, and see it against the backdrop of their home. For example, tree and plant supplier FastGrowingTrees.com uses web AR with QR codes to let shoppers see how different plants would look in their homes or yard.

Outdoor Equipment

Web AR works just as well for outdoor equipment as indoor furnishings. A shopper can look at an item and see how it would look in their backyard or an outdoor setting. For instance, outdoor supplier Core uses web AR with QR codes to let online shoppers see cabin tents from multiple angles and view them in their environment.

How Do You Implement a Web AR Website?

Implementing a web AR strategy into your website can be easy with the right technology. The main steps involve:

  • Designing AR content
  • Developing line sheets for internal reviews and merchandising
  • Publishing your content where customers can view it

VNTANA streamlines these steps by automating them efficiently and eliminating the bottlenecks in the process. You can upload your existing 3D models or use our network of service providers to create them. Plug-ins allow you to upload files in bulk and optimize their size for efficient online delivery that won’t slow down browsers. Built-in CMS features make it easy to create line sheets for internal review and sharing. Optimized files can then be shared with your market through your eCommerce site, digital showroom, social media profiles, or game engines.

Start Using Web AR to Increase Your Sales

Web-based AR puts businesses on a fast track toward augmented reality adoption by bypassing the need for customers to download apps to enjoy immersive experiences. By minimizing the effort it takes for customers to see your AR content, you can increase your conversion rates and sales volume while reducing your returns. Implementing AR can double your conversions while reducing returns by 40%, VNTANA data shows.

Check out our blog to learn more about incorporating web AR into your eCommerce strategy. Or, if you’d like to see how web-based AR works in action, schedule a demo with our team of specialists to learn how AR can help you deliver your customers a more engaging shopping experience that earns you more sales.