An experimental app for iOS that lets developers create Augmented Reality (AR) experiences using web technologies.
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README.md

WebARonARKit

An experimental app for iOS that lets developers create Augmented Reality (AR) experiences using web technologies. An Android version is also available.

Spawn-at-Camera exampleSpawn-at-Surface example

Note: This is not an official Google product. Nor is it a fully-featured web browser. Nor are the enabling JavaScript APIs standards, or on the standardization path. WebARonARKit is only meant to enable developer experimentation. For details on the WebARonARKit architecture, see How WebARonARKit works.

Getting started

WebARonARKit must be built from source using Xcode 9 and iOS 11. This requires an Apple Developer Account. If you do not have one already, sign up at developer.apple.com.

0. Prerequisites

WebARonARKit is built on top of iOS ARKit, which requires an iOS device with an A9+ processor, running iOS 11. For best results, we recommend one of the following:

  • iPad (2017)
  • iPad Pro (9.7, 10.5 or 12.9 inches)
  • iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

WebARonARKit must be built from source and requires the following:

1. Run WebARonARKit

  1. Clone the WebARonARKit GitHub repo.
  2. Launch Xcode 9.
  3. Open the Xcode project (.xcodeproj) from within the cloned WebARonARKit repo using Xcode 9.
  4. Select WebARonARKit Project file from the Project Navigator (top blue icon in the left column) and then select the WebARonARKit target under Targets.
  • GIF showing how to set the project target.
  1. With WebARonARKit as the selected target, you'll automatically be viewing the "General" tab in the main panel. From there find the signing section and select the Team that corresponds to your iOS Developer Account / Team. If you get an error in the following steps, it's probably due to a code signing error. If you encounter errors, follow the instructions provided within Xcode (note one default you'll certainly have to change is the Bundle Identifier, can be a trivial addition such as "-personal" appended to the identifier in the GIF example below).
  • GIF showing how to code sign.
  1. Set your device as the build destination by first ensuring it is connected to your computer, then selecting it from Product >> Destination menu or from the drop-down menu next to the Run button in the top top-left of the UI.
  • GIF showing how to set the build destination!
  1. Build and push to your device by selecting the Run button or typing ⌘-R. Once the build is complete and has been pushed to your device the app should open automatically. You may have to follow on screen instructions to authorize your developer account to push to your device. Note that the first time you run the app installing the correct user profiles may take some time.

2. Viewing examples

A list of example scenes compatible with WebARonARKit and WebARonARCore are available at developers.google.com.

3. Building your own scenes

To build AR web experiences that work with WebARonARKit and WebARonARCore for Android, we recommend three.ar.js, a helper library that works with the popular three.js WebGL framework. Three.ar.js provides common AR building blocks, such as a visible reticle that draws on top of real world surfaces, and example scenes.

4. Debugging

Pages in WebARonARKit can be inspected and debugged remotely with MacOS Safari, however this requires MacOS Safari 11.0 (available as Safari Technology Preview) or higher. You can download MacOS Safari 11 from https://developer.apple.com/safari/technology-preview/.

How WebARonARKit works

WebARonARKit is built on the following:

  • An WKWebView instance. WKWebView is an iOS class that enables developers to embed web views in their native apps, and to expose native device capabilities to web content via custom APIs. In our case, we use WKWebView to expose ARKit functionality to web content. Native/web app frameworks such as Cordova use a similar approach.
  • Extensions to the WebVR API. The WebVR API (v1.1) gives us much of what we need for AR. We then extend it to add a few more essentials: motion tracking, rendering of the camera's video feed, and basic understanding of the real world. For details, see WebVR API extension for smartphone AR

WebARonARKit injects a script (WebARonARKit.js) as soon as a page is loaded into the WKWebView. This script, among other things, polyfills the WebVR 1.1 API and handles all the communication between native and web content.

When running, WebARonARKit layers a fullscreen camera feed in the background with a transparent WKWebView on top. This arrangement creates a fairly seamless result between "real world" and rendered web content, but comes with a few limitations:

  • In pass-through camera-based AR, the time stamp based syncrhonization of the camera frame and the 6DOF pose needs to be as accurate as possible. Beause of the nature of this two-layer system, WebARonARKit is not able to ensure the proper synchronization. This contributes to perceptible "drift" between virtual objects and the real world seen in with the camera feed, especially on iPhones.
  • The bidirectional communciation bridge between the native side and the JavaScript side in always asynchronous. WebARonARKit tries to resolve this limitation as much as possible using various techniques (like for hitTest, that has to be synchronous).
  • In the current version of WebARonARKit the camera feed is always rendered in the native side, underneath the WKWebView that runs the web content. Not being able to expose the video frame to the web side prevents interesting use cases such as reflections, refractions, environment mapping, or simply rendering the video in a specific location or size (in current builds it is always fullscreen). Rendering the video feed in the web side would also resolve the synchronization problems mentioned earlier.

Known issues

  • There seems to be a bug in WebKit that affects the WKWebView in iOS 10+ where the window.innerWidth and window.innerHeight values are not correctly up to date when the event is fired and thus, not being able to properly resizing when the device changes orientation. To resolve this issue, in WebARonARKit, when an event listener is created to listen to the 'resize' event on the window, it is intercepted and updated only when the device orientation changes.

  • Because of the nature of how WebARonARKit is built (a webview executing the web content on top of a native process rendering the camera feed and handling ARKit code and the communication between them), it is very hard to get a correct pose estimation that completely matches the underlying camera feed. This lack of tracking and rendering synchronization is particularly noticeable on iPhones. It is less perceptible on iPads, so we recommend iPads for optimal results.

Future work

  • Improve performance, particularly on iPhones, by implementing alternative methods of communicating between the WKWebView and the native side. The goal being to synchronize as much as possible the camera feed and the pose used in WebVR.
  • Add more AR-related features.

License

Apache License Version 2.0 (see the LICENSE file inside this repo).