Unity3D for iOS: Basic AR via the Free VUFORIA for iOS Plugin

Qualcomm’s dev site & docs for Vuforia

QDevNet’s version of Vuforia for iOS for Unity

  • Comes with Sample projects, each as a .unitypackage.
  • Doesn’t show up as a selectable package in the Project Wizard in Unity. You can still import it via Assets > Import Package > Custom Package.

Unity Asset Store version of Vuforia for iOS

  • Contains no sample projects/files.
  • The Vuforia package shows up Project Wizard when you do File > New Project in Unity.
  • After downloading Vuforia for iOS from the Asset Store, I started with a tutorial called “Getting Started – Unity Extension > Compiling a Simple Project” on QDevNet’s Vuforia section
  • The Asset Store version of Vuforia for iOS didn’t seem to have any sample usage files or demos, as of May 21, 2012. This part was a bit confusing but I was able to get it working after poking around on QDevNet.
  • Comes with empty StreamingAssets/QCAR and Editor/QCAR/ImageTargetTextures folders. This means when you try to follow the “Compiling a Simple Project” tutorial under “Getting Started – Unity Extension” here, and try to add the ImageTarget prefab to your Hierarchy as the tutorial shows, the Image Target Behavior script won’t show any public vars like “Data Set” or “Image Target”.
    The Unity Assets Store version doesn’t seem to have any sample Targets – 1. download a sample project from https://ar.qualcomm.at/ and copy/paste or 2. create your own using their online Target Management System as described here.

Random Notes on Creating Trackable Images (Image Targets) w/ Target Management System (TMS)

  • TMS lets you upload a photo & lets you know if it works for Vuforia using a 5 star rating system. Zero starts means the image is totally unusable. Once you figure out a descent 4 or 5 star rated image you can click “download selected trackables” and you get a .unitypackage with the necessary .xml file and visual assets. Double clicking on the downloaded .unitypackage imports these assets into the correct locations (assuming you have Vuforia for iOS already installed in Unity)
  • A trackable image needs to have “Sharp edges & high contrast”:
    “Example of image that provides no detection and no tracking… There are no features in this image because it lacks visual elements with sharp edges and high contrast. Detection and tracking are not possible.” The TMS didn’t like my first notebook image because of the spiral edge pattern at the top. I got this message: “Avoid repetitive patterns or motifs:”

    The system provided a link to a slide show of various images along with explanations on why they work well or not. That was helpful.
    This image got 4 out of 5 stars from TMS and ended up working well:

    An image that was rated 1 out of 5 starts by TMS produced a super jittery 3D model that did appear when I held my phone up to it from just the right angle but didn’t look great. Developer Guide > Trackables > Image Targets and Developer Guide > AR App Design Guide > Image Target Design Properties and Image Target Enhancement Tricks talk more about which images are acceptable.

  • 2MB is the max file size limit for a TMS uploadable image as of May 2012 – aka, a photo taken on an iPhone 4S & email at Actual Size might be too big. 

Licensing, etc

2 thoughts on “Unity3D for iOS: Basic AR via the Free VUFORIA for iOS Plugin

  1. I am setting up the vuforia plugin for Unity as well.

    I have installed the Android environment

    I have installed Unity 4 with Android Plugin

    I have installed the Unity Vuforia Extension

    I have installed my Galaxy Phone drivers and enabled the Developer options

    I am running a 64 bit machine with Windows 7

    I have updated all my drivers

    I have restarted my phone and computer

    I have paid close attention to all the steps in the tutorials below


    I can’t for the life of me see what I am missing. I noticed that you went through the same process but augmented it with some extra knowledge from the Qualcomm development forum.

    Can you give me any hints. Thank you so much for your help [edited for privacy]

    • Hey William,
      I did this on OS X, so not sure if my experience was a bit different. I’d try to break the problem into smaller components and test one at a time. Start with the basics – 1. can you get anything form Unity 4 to publish to your phone successfully?
      2. try running one of their sample Unity projects on your phone – that’s the first thing I did to make sure it works.
      3. Check your main (high level menu) – does Vuforia show up there? (a sign that it’s installed correctly)
      4. If all else fails, I’d try uninstalling Vuforia and trying to re-install it from the Unity Asset Store – see if that works at least.
      It’s been a few months since I’ve touched Vuforia, so you might know more than me at this point. =)

      Also, I just noticed that it looks like Qualcomm simply killed a lot of their urls that used reside at https://ar.qualcomm.at. There’re no redirects, no, “update your links” message, so if was to start a Vuforia project today, I’d have to re-look up a bunch of the stuff I linked to in this post when it was originally written in May 2012.

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