You can now use ThingLink to annotate real-life objects and view the annotations using our new Augmented Reality app on your iPhone or iPad!
Use the links below to jump between different sections of the article:
- Creating content and using AR mode
The AR features are currently being tested and are not available by default. If you would like to test AR features, please reach out to your ThingLink point of contact or submit a request here.
Note that the app is available on iOS and iPadOS only. An Android version of the app will be released in the future.
Creating content and using AR mode
The basic flow for using the ThingLink AR mode is:
- Take a picture of an object (e.g. a painting or a poster)
- Upload the picture to ThingLink & add hotspots using ThingLink’s main media editor
- Go to the AR section in your ThingLink profile, add the scene to an AR collection, and then generate a share code for your collection
- Open the ThingLink AR app and enter the share code
- Point your phone’s camera at the object and you should see the tags you’ve added to your ThingLink scene. Tap the hotspots to interact with them!
Step 1: Choose an object & take a photo
First, you will need to choose what object you want to use with the AR app. At the moment, the app works best with 2-dimensional objects - paintings, posters, book covers, maps, laptops, and the like, but you can try it with any other object as well.
Crop any background objects from the photo so that it depicts only the object you want the app to recognize. For example, if you take a photo of a laptop on a table, crop the table out of the picture.
Once you take a picture, measure the physical width of the object. You can use the built-in Measure app if you don’t have a ruler or a measuring tape.
Step 2: Upload the picture to ThingLink and tag it
Upload the picture to ThingLink and tag it!
The hotspots you add will look almost the same when viewed via the AR app, but there are some limitations you need to consider:
- Icons cannot be customized yet. The icon design is preset and depends on the tag type. This will be addressed in future updates.
- Text & media tags cannot display 3D models.
- Text formatting/markdown is not supported.
- Some embedded content (added via the ‘Add content from website’ tags) may look different than on mobile or desktop. This will be addressed in future updates.
- Poll tags are not supported at the moment.
- Tour tags are not supported as you can’t ‘transition’ from one image to another in a physical space.
Step 3: Create an AR collection
- Back in your ThingLink profile, select the AR tab in the left-hand navigation menu.
- Click the ‘Create’ button on the AR collections page and enter the title of your new AR collections.
- Open the collection you created, then click the blue ‘Add scene’ button. Select the scene with the image of the object you created in Step 2 above.
- You will be prompted to set the image’s physical width in centimeters. If you do not know it, leave it at the default value (1) and click Save. If you measured the object’s width when taking the photo, enter it here. This will help the AR app recognize the object.
- Click the Share button and copy the AR sharing code. You can also send it to your iPhone or iPad.
What is an AR collection and why do I need to create a collection? The basic idea behind AR collections is to allow you - and your end users - to load and interact with multiple objects/images at once.
For example, if you are hosting an exhibition, you can take a picture of all objects in the exhibition, tag them, and add them to an AR collection. Your visitors can then simply enter the share code for the collection in ThingLink’s AR app and interact with all objects you’ve added to the collection - the app will automatically recognize an object from the collection when the viewer points the camera at it, and the tags will appear automatically without any additional prompts.
Step 4: Download and use the AR Viewer app
- Download the ThingLink AR Viewer app from the AppStore.
- Open the AR Viewer app.
- Enter the Share code you generated in Step 3 above, then click Start.
- Point your phone camera at the object you tagged.
- Interact with the hotspots you see on your screen!
For sharing your AR experiences with others - for example, visitors at your exhibition or students in the classroom - instruct the viewers to install the app and use the share code.