How to use photogrammetry in AR? All that you need to know.

November 25, 2021

Photogrammetry is the art, science, and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through processes of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of recorded radiant electromagnetic energy and other phenomena – American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). (Wolf and Dewitt, 2000; McGlone, 2004). 

In simpler words, photogrammetry is a method where images of objects and surfaces are used to create virtual 3D models. One can generate a realistic 3D scene with a series of photographs and combine them using specialized software. A simple example of photogrammetry is Google maps.

Photogrammetry was coined by the Prussian architect Albrecht Meydenbauer in 1867 and for centuries, was used for understanding information about faraway objects and the Earth’s surface. Today this technology has advanced and is used for creating digital assets in industries like construction, engineering, medicine and many more.

Types of photogrammetry

There are two primary types of photogrammetry used for creating AR assets.

Aerial photogrammetry – It is usually used for collecting data for landscape. In Aerial photogrammetry, data is collected by mounting a camera in an aircraft pointed vertically towards the ground. This data is used for creating digital 3D representations of a terrain’s surface with a digital elevation model (DEM) method, also known as digital terrain model (DTM) or digital surface model (DSM). Aerial photogrammetry is extensively used for creating navigation and maps.

Close-range photogrammetry– As the name suggests, close-range photogrammetry is used to capture images of objects from up-close. It uses hand-held or tripod-mounted cameras to measure and model complex designs and patterns to create a realistic virtual 3D model of the objects. It is extensively used by architecture, e-commerce, retail and fashion, education and many other industries.

Why choose photogrammetry for AR?

  • It’s a cost-effective method to create digital assets, especially when one has to use close-range photogrammetry. You can use mobile phones with high-quality cameras to capture the photographs and use these pictures to create a photorealistic 3D model of the object captured.
  • With photogrammetry, one receives highly accurate data with actual measurements to develop authentic, real-to-life virtual assets.
  • With photogrammetry, you can create a digital 3D replica of anything under the Sun, living or non-living.  
  • Since the artists use captured images of the objects, the turnaround time required to stitch and fine-tune the 3D asset is fast. With the proper image parameters, you should be able to create a functional model in a matter of hours.

Building AR experience using photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is the best tool to create detailed 3D content that builds an immersive AR experience. The process of creating 3D assets with photogrammetry is faster than using 3D modelling. In metaverse, photogrammetry will be the key technology used for creating a real-to-life experience for the users.

Integrating photogrammetry into AR is not as simple as it sounds. It’s a multi-step complex process that requires experts working at each step.

  • Capturing data: The first step is capturing photographs of the object to be converted into a 3D asset. The team captures multiple pictures of the object from different angles and heights.
  • Converting data into 3D assets– Once the images are captured, the 3D artists transform these 2D digital assets into digital 3D models using special software. This software analyses the photos and establishes their spatial dimensions, positions, and other details to generate a three-dimensional mesh that is further processed and refined to create a real-to-life 3D model.
  • Configuring 3D assets into AR– Once the 3D model is ready, the CG artists work on the file format, size and animation to ensure proper integration of assets in the AR program. The 3D model file has to be optimised to deliver a seamless experience to the users.


What do You Need to Build an AR Application with Photogrammetry?

Using the right software is the first and foremost requirement in the successful integration of photogrammetry in AR.  

  • AR software- Today, various AR software tools are available to help you develop AR experience faster and cheaper. Tools by popular engines like Unity, Unreal Engine, Vuforia, and ARKit makes the process convenient and is widely used by software companies.
  • Photogrammetry software– A proper photogrammetry software is required to convert 2D photographs into a 3D digital mesh. RealityCapturePix4DZephyrRecapand Metashape are popular programs used to convert photos’ visual information into digital data used for building 3D models.
  • Experienced partner – Since digital 3D models are the core of creating a captivating AR experience, one must work with an experienced partner like Ikarus 3D. We specialise in photogrammetry and can deliver AR ready premium, lightweight low-poly 3D models at scale in minimum turnaround time

Integrating photogrammetry is no cakewalk, but working with the right 3D modelling partner such as Ikarus 3D can make the entire process smooth and hassle-free. With a dedicated team of skilled developers, designers, QA engineers, and project managers, we empower you to build a captivating AR at record speed that reduces your time-to-market.

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