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9 minutes read

How Location-Based Augmented Reality Is Creating App Experiences

By Robert Kazmi
A group of kids playing and learning with augmented reality.
By Robert Kazmi
9 minutes read

Have you caught up with what’s been happening with apps that use Augmented Reality, also known as AR apps? If you caught the Pokemon Go craze, you probably have. You might have noticed that the Augmented Reality app provided a contagious form of engaging millions of keen users on their mobile devices. Thanks to location based AR, your app can also engage your users.

Location based Augmented Reality, also known as location based AR, gives app developers the opportunity to engage on a more exciting and personal level with users by enhancing the real world. Rather than the regular, same display for all that you get in most apps, the technology in AR applications allows you to deliver an experience relevant to where the user is. Thanks to geo based Augmented Reality features, you can elevate your User Experience. 

In this post we discuss what location based AR is, how a location based AR app can help your company, as well as some practical ways of using it. 

What Is Location-Based Augmented Reality?

Apps on phones with location services enabled are the perfect playground for app creators. Allowing your users to determine outdoor location seems like something silly that only matters to Google Maps. However, it also means you can trigger notifications based on location, something that becomes very helpful for giving people a timely reminder when they are near important places. Additionally, you can take advantage of the location to deliver a unique experience in other ways.

One of those is using Augmented Reality based on the location to develop location based AR apps for mobile devices. This means that you can overlay digital data, like a photo function in an app, allowing you to render digitized animations, pictures, or other data over real, physical space through the screen on a mobile device

When you combine Augmented Reality technology with location-based sensors, existing geo markers, motion tracking, and GPS, you can deliver geo based augmented reality. This makes putting virtual objects in the real world possible through a virtual landscape that exists on the screen of a mobile device. 

The result of doing this well can be a uniquely engaging experience for the user through indoor or outdoor Augmented Reality, and the possible applications of this are only just starting to be explored throughout a number of industries.

Two Types of AR Apps

When it comes to Augmented Reality, there are two possible types of applications. One is known as marker based AR and the other is markerless AR. In marker based AR, an app requires a static image on which to render the virtual objects. On the contrary, markerless AR apps do not require a static image. Instead, they can display the virtual world freely as the user moves the camera.

Challenges for Location Based AR Development

Various scholars wrote a paper for the University of Ulm highlighting the technological aspects that need to be considered for location based AR. It also considers some of the challenges involved with developing AR apps to make use of the technology. 

While developments in recent years have made the Augmented Reality technology more accurate and accessible, there are still some things that need to be worked out in order for developers to build AR apps. 

However, don’t let this ruin your plans of using location based AR for your app. Just make sure to find the right app development partner who knows how to address these difficulties. 

These are some of the most common challenges when building AR apps:

  • To improve the accuracy of location based AR, various sensors on the smartphone or mobile device must be queried correctly at the same time. This enables that the position and motion tracking of the device, as well as crucial parameters, are taken into account properly.
  • The device needs to be able to accurately display points of interest or the “virtual” aspects the user wants to be layered on the screen. For correct scene recognition, it does not matter which angle the smartphone camera is pointing to.
  • There are various ways to render location based AR, but the technique used for calculating the distance between two points must always be efficient and reliable. Because this is usually based on GPS data, it can sometimes suffer from errors.

Overall, the key challenge to build AR apps and use location based AR technology properly lies in maintaining accuracy. This may vary for iOS devices, which use the iOS location service, and for Android ones, which use Android location services. If a device is not able to reliably do that with your app, then the experience for the user is diminished.

How Is AR Technology Being Used in Apps?

There are several examples of AR technology being used to build AR applications. Most of these are used to deliver great User Experiences using location-based Augmented Reality. From AR mobile games to learning apps, and even discovering new places, here are a few examples:

Magical Park

Magical Park is one of many AR mobile games that use outdoor Augmented Reality to insert virtual objects into the real world. It is currently being used by several public parks in New Zealand and Australia as a tool for getting kids interested in their local parks, being outdoors, and generally getting off the couch. That crucial enticement to exercise has been a positive aspect of most Augmented Reality apps that use scene recognition outdoors, including Pokemon Go.

This AR app creates a virtual fantasy world that appears within the actual landscape of the park, putting virtual objects which can be viewed through the user’s device. Kids who use this app may see full-size dinosaurs or talking bears as they maneuver through the park. The app is being used as a promotional tool for Parks Week. It is considered a great way to connect people with outdoor spaces and drive awareness for conservation and social action.


Travelers can easily connect with their surroundings through virtual objects with geo based Augmented Reality through the LiveGuide app. This AR app can determine outdoor location to point out to users some features of interest along the journey in the real world, acting as a sort of digital compass to enhance the trip. This helps keep travelers updated and engaged in their adventure as they move through the journey.

Yelp Monocle

The monocle is a hidden feature on the Yelp app which opens up some cool features for users who discover it. It will surely become your social digital compass. Under the “more” menu, scroll down to Monocle and it will ask permission to access the camera on your phone.

Once you’ve got that opened up, if you point your camera, you’ll see virtual objects like boxes pop up for businesses or services nearby that you are pointing towards. You can sort to just restaurants, just bars, places your friends have been, or everything.

Star Walk

The Star Walk app allows everyone who is interested in astronomy to gaze up at the sky and know what they are looking at. It uses the GPS capabilities of a device to show users which stars should be visible where they are.

Users can point their devices toward the sky and be given the names of stars, constellations, and any visible planets. If a user were to point their device at the ground, they’ll get the names of stars and constellations visible in the opposite hemisphere. It’s a great example of how location-based augmented reality can be used for education purposes.


The Wikitude location based AR app began as a tool for users who point to their cameras anything from Tweets to reviews and useful information for stores. This core function is still the main attraction for users, but they’ve also opened it up as a platform for marketers.

Businesses are now able to create their own Augmented Reality experiences using the Wikitude studio. They can publish these experiences to the app and gain access to any users who are in their area. A business may want to simply create interest in their store and products or might want to create an AR experience specifically to highlight a promotion.


Although most companies want to use location based AR to create AR mobile games, educational and practical AR apps also have great potential. While translators are not strictly location based AR apps, tools like Google Translate and others are another good, practical example of AR technology in action for an app. 

While the standard tool as you type or paste words in to get a translation, the app allows you to hold up your camera to a sign in another language and get a translation for what you’re reading.

Future Potential for Augmented Reality

Where could location based Augmented Reality take users in the future? The only thing limiting them is imagination. The possibilities for education, business, and entertainment are vast. Humans tend to be very visual, so offering enhanced visual technology can deliver a lot of engagement.

We got to thinking about possible applications of location-based augmented reality for businesses going forward and here are a few thoughts:

  • Use AR to identify individual products and provide the user with more details such as how it was made, country of origin, materials, or nutritional information. Blippar is an example of an app similar to this idea.
  • Build an app that serves as an instruction manual or guides for internal use. For example, what if your maintenance engineers or trainees could point their cameras at specific equipment and get instructions for maintaining it?
  • Promotional apps. For example, could you build an AR treasure hunt?

How Will You Use Augmented Reality?

Location-based augmented reality is really just beginning to be explored, but the potential applications for businesses are enormous. From education, discovery, and promotions to entertainment and exercise, today’s users of AR have the opportunity to be “first movers” in an innovative field. 

Whether you want to create AR mobile games or implement location based AR into an existing app, make sure to hire the right HiTech services provider. A location based AR app allows developers to create engaging and highly relevant experiences for users based on what they are doing at the moment, a great recipe for a popular digital product.

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