My name is Jan Graf and in October I started a marketing & sales internship at Metaio’s office in Munich. One of my first tasks was to test the new version of the software Metaio Creator 3.0. With the Metaio Creator 3.0 nearly anybody is said to be able to create own augmented reality (AR) projects. Since I am a newcomer to AR, I was very curious to find out how it works.
Download the Metaio Creator for free!
To use the Creator and to test a created scenario on a mobile device, you will also require a Metaio developer account and the AR browser Junaio on your smart phone or tablet. But both are easy to get or to create and both are free of charge. After you install the Creator, you can access online tutorials, webinars and a helpdesk forum for support. I consulted all of these resources for my experiences described below, and I recommend the same to any new user.
At first I had to choose a so-called “trackable” to which I wanted to attach digital content. This can be a 2-D object like a magazine or photo (image tracking), or even a 3-D object like a building (object tracking) or even complete outdoor areas (environment tracking). Another technology is called instant tracking which allows you to add content spontaneously to anything you can find in the real world. To start I tried out “image tracking“ with a picture of the Oktoberfest, Munich’s annual celebration of Bavarian culture.
A nice feature of the Creator is that it automatically estimates the quality of your photo. As you can see, my picture just got one out of three stars so it might possibly not work well. But I tried it anyway.
On the right you find the resources with which you can augment your trackable. You can choose between 3-D models, audio files, websites, (YouTube) videos and graphics, among others. For my scenario I used Metaio’s provided sample content, which is good if you don’t want to spend time making your own 3-D models.
Drag and Drop content to create your own AR experience
My plan was to get to the website of each beer tent by clicking on the tent on my scanned photo in Junaio. To do this, I chose the “?” button and put it on each tent on my trackable in the editing area. Using the features of the Creator is very simple. You can easily drag and drop the resources, change the size and the proportions of elements, rotate them and determine the distance to your trackable in the 3-D view. On the left you select the view. Zooming is possible with the mouse wheel. Theoretically, you can add a limitless amount of content items to a trackable. Unfortunately I didn’t figure out whether and how I can change the color of the provided sample content, how to process multiple objects simultaneously or add text to an object- but all of this is explained in the available tutorials on Metaio’s Dev Portal.
After a right click on a button of my scenario and a left click on “Properties” I could determined what should happen when I click on “?” buttons. For my project I selected “Open a hyperlink” and entered the links to each website of the beer tents. In the same way I added a link to the Wikipedia entry of the Bavarian statue, also pictured, though this time I used a magnifier as button. Additionally I attached a play button on my trackable that starts a YouTube video, but I didn’t use the “YouTube” resource, since in this case the video would start automatically after scanning my photo with Junaio, and I wanted a video texture to play on the image itself. With a clickable button I can define the time of playing. Done!
If you have a webcam, you can preview your scenario directly on your PC. For that you have to print your trackable or you can also point your camera to the digital image on your screen. Unfortunately I have no webcam so I tested my scenario with my smart phone. In order to enjoy your AR experience with Junaio, you first have to upload it to a server. With the Creator you can easily upload your project to the provided cloud space by Metaio or to your own server.
In the section, “Upload to Metaio Cloud” on the bottom right I chose “New channel”, next “Create”, named the channel for my scenario “Oktoberfest” and pressed “Create” again. A few seconds later a QR code appeared on my screen that I had to scan with Junaio. That’s it. Now I should be able to experience my first own AR project by pointing the camera of my smart phone on my printed trackable. What can I say, the result looks very good, although the quality of my print doesn’t, and my buttons work!
After this encouraging result, I also tried the “instant tracking” that doesn’t need a predefined trackable. I did not have to select a picture, but place the content items directly on a mapped grid in the editing area of the Creator.
Among the sample content, I found the 3-D model of a pumpkin and added it to my AR scenario. Then the UI Designer (user interface designer) you can see on the bottom left opened automatically and a camera and a cross button appeared on a mapped mobile device. These buttons will activate or deactivate the instant tracking. With the UI Designer I can place all menu elements wherever I want to see them later on my smart phone. After that I finished my AR scenario as described in the test before and scanned the QR code with Junaio. The amazing result you can see on the pictures.
User-friendly Interface to manage your Content
Overall, I can say that the Metaio Creator 3.0 delivers what its developers promised. The software has a very user-friendly and clear interface that allows you to simply drag and drop content on your scenario. The tutorials are well-written and easy to understand, so even if you are not a developer or know little about the technology behind augmented reality and just want to have fun, you can create and enjoy your own projects within a short time. But of course the Metaio Creator is also a tool for professionals who can put much more functionality to AR scenarios with the AREL Script Editor within the Creator. It is not difficult to imagine that you can create added value to print media by creating a multimedia extension with the Creator and that the Metaio Creator is a great marketing tool for many companies. But there are surely many opportunities for the industry as well. So there is a huge audience for the Creator and I’m sure I will be using the software in the future.