SketchAR Mobile App

SketchAR was an interesting app that I recently encountered and thought I would check it out.  The company’s promo video highlights its use of augmented reality to basically trace an the AR image onto a physical surface like a sheet of paper.

I don’t frequently sketch nor do I consider myself very good, but I wondered if this app might help.  The app instantly directed me to a variety of sketches within its built-in library, such as the sketch of the cat below.  The screenshot shows the blue outline really well and there’s a slider to adjust the transparency of the outline to assist when drawing.  There is also an option to access the phone’s photo library to acquire your own sketches.

SketchAR App

Screenshot of the SketchAR App with the AR sketch

I was most curious about the tracking and my test showed that it was a bit challenging.  The app requires that 4 circles be drawn on the sheet of paper, or any surface, in particular locations, as shown in the screenshot below.  As long as the 4 circles were within the camera’s view, it would track, to a certain extent.  Green dots would flicker to notify which of the 4 circles were being tracked.  For the most part, the AR image of the cat stayed in place in the center of the sheet, but some slight movements of the phone would enlarge the image quickly and then revert back to the original size.

When the image was stable, I would attempt to trace the blue outline with a black marker, and you can see the result of my attempt below.  The app recommends taping down the sheet so you can draw with your dominant hand and hold the phone in the other.  There was a slight lag of the motion of the marker in my hand as seen through the app camera.  Basically, when I was tracing, the physical location of the marker in my hand was slightly ahead of what I was seeing through the app camera.

Aside from the tracking issue that seems to be the recurring theme with AR apps, I can envision some good applications for something like this such as transposing or superimposing sketches in a design charrette.  In the time that I’ve been exploring AR, the key has always been to enhance its use and applicability through interactivity, rather than simply viewing an AR model through the app.  Overall though, it was a very interesting experience.

SketchAR App

Screenshot of SketchAR App superimposed over my attempt to trace sketch

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