Augmented Reality Cost

AR Experte Matthias Hamann

Matthias Hamann

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How expensive ist Augmented Reality Development?

Many people considering developing an Augmented Reality App ask us about the costs to expect. Of course, this is a difficult question as it is comparable to a question like "How much is a house?". It depends on the project – nice little lawyer response. Jokes aside, let's look at this together.

Main factors that influence the price

The driving factors are:

Project Scope

The time and effort required for producing an AR app depend massively on the project scope. Generally speaking, a simple product visualization will be less costly compared to a complex and highly interactive individual application. That means features play an important role when it comes to pricing.

What Are the Features?

Talking about features, the degree of realism is the main point to consider.

The more realistic the App looks and behaves, the higher the production costs. This is because a lot of time needs to be invested to get all the details right – making AR visualizations look highly real requires many working hours.

Photo-realistic 3D models, textures, and lighting have to be created. Animations need to be smooth and life-like. The user interface must be intuitive and easy to use.

When talking about realism, an important technique called "Baking" is the dirty trick in the development of real-time applications – and it also affects the price tag.

Baking is a common practice in real-time 3D development that is used to create realistic and smooth shadows on objects. This technique is used to create a better immersive experience for the user. By simulating the way light behaves in the real world, baking can help to improve the overall appearance of a game or in our case – of an Augmented Reality application. There are several steps involved in baking procedures, and all of them require time and effort.

How complex is the app?

The complexity of the app can also have a big impact on the cost. A basic augmented reality app that just overlays text or an image onto a live camera view will be much cheaper to develop than an app with more complex features.

Some apps require advanced tracking mechanisms such as 3D object tracking via edge detection algorithms or deep learning approaches (object recognition). No surprise that using these techniques can be highly time-consuming and expensive.

If, on the other hand, simple image-based marker tracking is used, the effort required is usually much lower.

3D Data Basis

Creating a 3D model from scratch can be very time-consuming and expensive, especially when it comes to geometrically complex structures. The quality of the data is essential to achieving good results. Poor-quality data can lead to artifacts in the rendered image and a general loss of realism.

In the design process, existing CAD and 3D data may help to save time and money. Only suitable data quality, on the other hand, determines whether potential savings in production time are real.

It's also crucial to remember that AR experiences utilize real-time rendering on the device. The number of polygons in the 3D model(s) has a significant influence on processing performance. As a result, existing polygon-rich data (often known as "high-poly data") must be edited (yes, often manually) to match.

The Tech Stack

The technology used to develop an App can also have a significant impact on the price.

Frameworks or SDKs are commonly used to avoid having to reinvent the wheel every time a project is started. There are many different frameworks for webAR and native AR development, each with its own set of pros and cons. Some frameworks are more popular than others, but most of them come with a price tag. Choosing the right framework can save a lot of time and money in production and can also affect the number of possible features, the stability of tracking, and the degree of realism.

Some frameworks are open source and available for free, while others have more complex licensing structures. Developing an app using a commercial framework can add significantly to the cost of producing an app.

Service Providers or "spoiled for choice"

The choice of service provider has one of the strongest influences on price. The most common question when starting to look for a development partner is the following:

Freelancer, Studio, or Agency?

In General, hiring a freelancer is the least expensive, but can be riskier if you are not sure about their skills and experience. Also, the availability for maintenance work or even during the production phase can become an issue.

Hiring a small studio or network agency generally provides the best value for money, but it may be considerably more expensive than hiring a freelancer.

Hiring a medium-sized or major and well-known agency can often double or triple the price. When doing so, make sure you pick an agency that is specialized in AR/VR development. The large players in the advertising business frequently promise these skills for themselves, but what they really do is purchase remote resources such as freelancers or even other companies – with hefty margins.

This is only a rough estimate, but the cost of creating an augmented reality app may vary from one to five depending on the variables. You can expect to pay anything from $5,000 to $25,000 for a basic app with limited features. However, if you want more sophisticated capabilities or advanced tracking systems, the price will rise significantly.

For the smarties out there: Offshore development companies usually offer a more affordable option but usually at the cost of lower quality and less support. Another con when following this approach is that you will likely need an expert supervising the project to make sure it meets the scope and the quality intended. So, be cautious about this, wise guy!


In short, the cost of developing an Augmented Reality app depends on several factors, including the scope of the project, the features, and complexity of the App, the technology used, the supplier, and the region where development takes place. However, in general, we can say that development costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

Although price is often decisive for the choice of a development partner, it should not be the only criterion. Often, low prices are offered by suppliers who work with low-cost resources and this can lead to problems during or after development. Inexperienced developers or lack of quality control can quickly cause delays, unstable applications, and additional costs.

It's a fantastic idea to get the opinion of an impartial expert during the project's early phases. They can assist you in weighing your options and finding the perfect technology and supplier for your requirements. Not only will this save you time and money, but it will also ensure that you receive a high-quality product that fits your budget.

So there you have it – an overview of the cost involved in developing an augmented reality app including some tips for do's and don'ts in the early phase of the project. We hope this article has been helpful and provided some valuable insights. If you have any questions or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.



Title illustration by Lukas Bischoff / www.artill.de 

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Matthias Hamann
Digital strategy and concept

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I write about my passion for technology and digital strategies. Would you like to find out more about how I work and my projects?

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