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We know that many of you are really excited about building handheld Augmented Reality (AR) apps. So we’ve developed a multi-platform API and utilities that will help you solve many of the hard problems that come with AR development. We call it AR Foundation.

Unity has always been at the forefront of handheld AR development and we’ve supported ARCore and ARKit from the start. But with AR Foundation and the software architecture it leverages, we can now offer developers a common API which supports core functionality for ARCore, ARKit, and future platforms.

AR Foundation is integrated with Unity via the Package Manager, so it’s easy to integrate into your new projects. We are focused on adding support for new features and platforms into AR Foundation. At the same time, we’ll continue to support the platform-specific plugins developers may be using in existing projects.

We’re optimistic about the future of both handheld AR and wearable AR and will continue investing in platform support and developer tools as the technology evolves and the market for AR grows.

AR Foundation features

This initial release of AR Foundation provides support for the core functionality of most AR apps:

  • Planar surface detection
  • Depth data represented as point clouds
  • Performant pass-thru rendering
  • Reference points to aid in anchoring virtual objects to the physical world
  • Estimates for average color temperature and brightness
  • Tracking device position and orientation in physical space
  • Utilities for scaling content properly in AR
  • Raycasting against plane and depth data

And this feature set is just the beginning. AR Foundation will evolve to provide access to new platform features and helpful utilities while maintaining backward compatibility.

Getting Started

  1. Make sure that you have installed Unity 2018.1 or higher. If you are targeting Android be sure to have the Android Build Support Component installed and if you are targeting iOS be sure to have the iOS Build Support Component installed.
  2. Clone the arfoundation-samples GitHub repository and checkout the master  branch. This project automatically installs the following required packages: AR Foundation, ARCore XR Plugin, and ARKit XR Plugin.
  3. Open SampleScene.unity and deploy to a compatible Android or iOS device.

The sample scene establishes an AR session, renders the camera image as background, displays depth and plane data, and performs ray-casts in response to screen touches. It’s a great starting point for building your own apps based on AR Foundation. See the documentation for more details on these and other features.

Give Us Your Feedback

We will be sharing more details of our progress on workflow improvements, additional sample content, and support for the latest platform features in upcoming blog posts. We want to hear what you think of AR Foundation so far and what features you want for making great multi-platform AR experiences. Please join us on the Handheld AR Forum.

24 replies on “Multi-platform Handheld AR in 2018”

Hey luics we are working on it and will hopefully be releasing something in preview very soon!

This is fantastic – we are working on integrating a networking model with mobile, pc, pc-vr, mobile-ar, mobile-vr and this really is helpful on the mobile side of things :)

Is this a direct successor to

I liked the idea, cause all current systems do pretty much the same and abstraction is appreciated here. Mixed Reality Toolkit is jumping an the train with their next major release – supporting Hololens, MS Immersive Headsets, Steam VR and Open XR. However, i have my doubts on how that will turn out.

But keeping the Frameworks under one hood can only go so far as the lower end API allows, or? ARKit 2 is – for example – in some respects better than Vuforia. In other cases it catches up rapidly. Google was so far more than quick to catch up to ARKit. But Unity needs to wait for them to deliver and then needs time to find identical features that can robustly be integrated into AR Foundation. Thus being always like 6 month behind.

And i wonder what the option of Vuforias Team is concerning this development. Somebody remembers String AR?

Will there be something like the Test Environment of AR Interface?
That was a big time saver!

Unity always seems to release neat features like this when I’m halfway through a project :P
Looking forward to looking at this for my next project.

Good news , thanks for making it.
When we can expect newest features from arkit 2.0 to be implemented in it?

We are working get AR Foundation up to feature parity with ARCore and ARKit now but it’s too early to announce when that will be available.

Hi Behram, we’re watching close but don’t have any solid plans for AR Foundation on the web right now.

This does indeed look awesome – is there any way it can work in Windows (we are developing an AR application that works with a PC webcam) or must it be IOS/Android only due to the ARKit/ARCore reliance? (I assume this is what J is asking as well?)

Hey Earl, right now the AR Foundation package will only run on iOS and Android devices

I believe J was referring to Google’s Instant Preview tool for ARCore rather than a non-mobile solution. As of right now we are focusing on Handheld AR applications but feel free to tell us more about your use case on the forum, Earl.

Looks awesome, I was looking at the AR Interface yesterday and saw that it was discontinued, so very good timing :)
Do you plan on adding Instant Preview support? It’s a time saver for developing AR apps.
Thanks a lot,

We have some workflow improvement tools based on AR Foundation in development now. We’ll be announcing details of those in the near future.

You’re welcome, J. We have some workflow tools in development that will make iteration times faster for Handheld AR. We will be sharing the details in a future blog post.

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