Augmented Reality Developer Options after Metaio
This post originally was published in French on augmented-reality.fr.
Just before summer, we launched a survey to better understand the strategies of Augmented Reality developers following Metaio’s sudden change in circumstances. This blog post presents the results of our survey and our interpretations.
We launched the survey in mid-June and left it open over the summer of 2015. There was no specific respondent selection and therefore we cannot speak of any representative sample. However, with 63 responses, approximately 30 to 50% of whom were English speakers, we decided that the dataset was sufficient to be representative.
First, we present the results of the survey. We then offer our interpretations.
Metaio Product Distribution
Respondents were mainly users of Metaio’s SDK, and slightly more than half were users of Metaio Creator. The Continuous Visual Search (CVS) tool is used relatively little by our sample. Although it is not easy to fully know respondents’ use of Metaio tools, we can assume that the majority of respondents work in or near development because only 2 of the 63 respondents exclusively use Metaio Creator.
The Impact on Business
The impact of Metaio’s cessation of its offers on the developers’ business is important, even if 16% of respondents do not see the effects. While 40% of respondents said they have alternatives to Metaio products, 34% said they do not.
Open Source Solutions
The use of an Open Source alternative to avoid the current situation is mixed. Although the survey was not specific about the capabilities of the offering, sixty percent of the respondents thought they would consider using an open source option, but a quarter of respondents remained uncertain.
Software Development Kits
Not surprisingly, developers responded that, alone or in combination, Vuforia and Wikitude were the best alternatives to the Metaio SDK. Other proposed alternatives included ARToolkit, Catchoom and ARmedia. However, it is important to note that the third most common answer among respondents was “I don’t know.”
Presently it seems that the vast majority of users have not found an alternative for Metaio Creator. Wikitude Studio is popular but Layar Creator, though popular one or two years ago, no longer seems a viable alternative. It is surprising not to find Aurasma in the options considered by survey respondents.
Metaio Continuous Visual Search
The results concerning Metaio CVS proved difficult to interpret as few people use it. Although Vuforia Cloud Recognition gained slightly more traction than other proposed alternatives, CVS users are much more divided on alternatives overall.
Open Comments from the Survey
Comments we received from respondents raise a few salient points. In particular, Metaio’s technical expertise and advanced solutions were noted. Despite Wikitude and Vuforia having the same capabilities, there is currently no product in Metaio’s class.
We also see bitterness against Apple as well as an awareness of the potential fragility of other alternatives.
Today there is no obvious miracle solution to take Metaio’s place. The impact of the company’s change in circumstances on developers clearly demonstrates the overall fragility of the global Augmented Reality ecosystem. It is rather surprising to me that a third of respondents have no viable alternatives to Metaio technology. Rumors of Vuforia’s sale by Qualcomm may make the situation even more complicated in the coming months.
Paradoxically, these uncertainties do not help in the establishment of an Open Source solution. Although half of respondents believe this would be a good thing, a quarter remains uncertain. After discussions with several companies specializing in Augmented Reality, I felt a certain reluctance to support an open source system, primarily due to fear of losing an advantage in terms of technical prowess. There is much to say about this and I plan to prepare a more complete article in the coming weeks. In fact RA’pro will launch an invitation for a debate on this topic via web conference in the near future.
Returning to alternative tools, there is not a lot of surprise in seeing mention of the major market players: Vuforia, Wikitude, ARToolkit, ARmedia, Catchoom, etc. I am personally amazed at the few mentions of Layar, which seems to be a relatively major player in the AR print arena. However, it is true that the absence of a freemium model does not facilitate adoption by small businesses. The total absence of Aurasma and Total Immersion in the responses was also surprising.
As a final note, no one really knows if Metaio’s place can be taken since Apple has made no statement on the future of the product. We can however, presume that Metaio technology will be integrated in future products and will, therefore, lose the cross-platform nature that made Metaio products successful.
What do you think? Please leave your comments below.