AR animated sculpture

For this project, I planned to create an animated projection of a digital sculpture, my aim was to learn the basic workflow to create an AR application using Unity.

Right from the beginning of my research, I’ve got pretty frustrated by the fact that ARcore, one of the leading apps used to create AR applications, was pretty restrictive regarding mobile devices, basically, I discovered that my phone wasn’t compatible for their content.

I was decided to find a workaround, I saw some references from people that claimed they hacked ARcore to make it work with a broad variety of phones, I also read some articles featuring some of the best AR apps in the market, that is when I started to notice this name: Vuforia.

Later I found a pretty interesting tutorial with this title: “Let’s Make an Augmented Reality App in 6 MINUTES!!!!”, I was intrigued so I followed it. Soon I discovered that making a basic app with Vuforia was pretty straight forward, however, I could not find any reference suggesting that I could play it on my phone, at this point, I decided to give it a go as I was willing to spend 6 minutes to find out if my phone was compatible.

First, I learned that you could install Vuforia into Unity, then I found that the video was from 2017 and a lot of things had changed since then, the biggest improvement was that Vuforia became included inside of Unity form version 2017.02 onwards!

Quick tip:

I always try to avoid working on the latest version of a specific software unless I really need to. Very often you will find that the features you need are already available in previous versions and with the benefit of finding many more tutorials and forum references based on that specific version, I personally find it exhausting trying to keep up with the newest trending thing and usually end up using software that was released at least one year ago.

So I downloaded Unity 2017.02, My first task was to create a 3D animation of a sculpture that I later imported inside of Unity.

Using Vuforia is quite straight forward, first you have to create a free Vuforia account, then, you have to create a license key, this is basically a reference string that links your apps to your Vuforia account. If you follow the tutorial I mentioned, at some point you will need to copy and paste your license string inside your Unity project.

To create an image target, first you have to pick/create an image to be used as your target, for this project, I decided to use the same image I used as texture for the sculpture.

Then you assign that image to a target database.

Finally, you download that database (Unity format), import it to your project and install it by double clicking on the file. Now it will be available for you to activate it.

In the end, it didn’t take me 6 minutes, actually, I spent around 20 minutes as the tutorial was a bit out of date and ended up looking for updated instructions on Vuforias plugin (check the resources at the end of this page) but in the end, it was worth it! I compiled my AR app and transferred it to my android device using the Android File Transfer software (I had to do this as I was working on a Mac, Windows PCs allow you to connect directly to your android phone).

And this is a video of me testing the app.

Now that I understand the basic workflow, I decided to work on a more challenging project exploring character animation and user interaction. I called this project Interactive AR Project


Unity download archive (previous versions)

Youtube tutorial:

Vuforia updated content:

Vuforia account

Android file transfer