People often associate 3D with movies or games, but its application goes so much beyond. Multiple solutions powered by this technology are becoming common in our everyday lives. Furthermore, three-dimensional modeling and scanning are the basis not only for three-dimensional applications but for any AR/VR app, too.
Many uses of 3D, from depth maps to biometrics, have shown how valuable this technology is for modern humans. It has been even applied in education, so it’s safe to say 3D is here to stay. For these reasons, 3D app development has been booming in the past few years.
An impressive increase in global mobile device usage, as well as better internet connection availability all over the world, have also fueled the growing popularity of three-dimensional apps. When developed wisely, such applications can be very powerful and reach their desired audience, ultimately leading to their long-term success.
3D App Market Overview
Over the next five years, the mobile 3D market is expected to grow at a 40.6% CAGR. The combination of increased display quality and computational power with more affordable prices is one of the key factors driving the market and influencing 3d mobile application development overall.
The mobile 3D market is expected to become extremely competitive, so companies are trying to accelerate the creation of new solutions to get their share of the market. As three-dimensional technology is applied in various spheres, new opportunities appear for businesses to benefit from.
Increased smartphone and tablet usage have had a lot of influence on the rising popularity of three-dimensional apps. The application of 3D sensing technology in smartphones has increased ten times since 2017, which is a prominent example of how mobile 3D is becoming the new normal.
Overall, the mobile 3D market is split into the product, component, and application categories. The latter category covers various types of apps like games, animations, maps and navigation, and mobile projections and visualizations.
Though mobile games are the most successful segment of the market, other solutions using three-dimensional technology provide appealing opportunities to those who want to create a 3D app, too.
In terms of regional markets, North America is the leading market for three-dimensional apps, and it is expected to continue growing in the near future. Innovational technologies within the market, including devices capable of processing volumetric models and specialized software, will fuel its further expansion.
Asia-Pacific, especially China and India, is the high-growth area for mobile 3D. This is due to both the consumer demand and the presence of successful smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, Oppo, Lenovo, and more.
Even though new solutions are more targeted towards consumers with higher income and purchasing power or those with professional needs, 3D software is expected to become more common among the general public.
Types of 3D Apps
- Animation & creation tools
- Maps & navigation software
- Projection & visualization apps
- Other applications
There are many different types of apps that use three-dimensional technology. It’s often hard to draw the line between various categories, especially considering 3D modeling is the basis for not only eponymous applications but VR/AR software, too.
It’s also worth noting that more and more industries see the increase in the 3D app presence.
For example, e-commerce utilizes three-dimensional models to make the shopping experience better for users. From trying on clothing to seeing how a piece of furniture will look in your room, modern applications provide people with tools to make online purchases successful.
Read Also: How to Create an Online Shopping App
Companies have also found that creating a catalog of 3D models is significantly cheaper than taking professional pictures of products. Many brands have reduced the overhead on building a traditional goods database, thus making 3D in retail not only innovative but cost-effective, too.
This matrix offers a look at numerous opportunities for augmented shopping, currently available to individuals and companies.
Besides e-commerce, industries like healthcare, construction, manufacturing, and more benefit from employing three-dimensional technology.
3 Successful Non-gaming 3D Apps
Google Earth is probably the most famous volumetric map application on the market. Based on the tech giant’s regular navigating software, this app allows users to view any place on the planet in 3D. Additional features include placing pins on the map, uploading photos and videos, and sharing information from the application through Google Drive.
A library of high definition images of the planet lies at the core of Google Earth. The software uses KML, a file format for displaying geographic data. A 360° perspective provides an opportunity to have a virtual tour by industry leaders like BBC Earth, NASA, National Geographic, etc.
Display.land is an example of a 3D model scanner for universal application. It gives users the ability to create, modify, and share three-dimensional models right on their smartphone. The tool can be helpful for those working with anything from games and animation to design and architecture.
The app uses photogrammetry to create 3D models, which can then be exported to other platforms. It’s also possible to share the works via a link or right through the app, where people can join a worldwide community of those interested in 3D.
With over half a million 3D product models, Houzz is the best application for home design and renovation. Apart from the usual functions an app like this has, there is the View in My Room 3D feature. The viewed products can be added straight to the shopping cart.
Built with ARKit/ARCore, the app lets customers virtually place furniture, decor, and more products right in their homes, true to scale. Users can even take a closer look at the products to see realistic texture and materials. Shoppers like the feature so much that they are 11X more likely to purchase and spend 2.7X more time on the app.
3D Mobile Application Development Process
Basic Assets for Building a 3D App
A three-dimensional model lies at the core of 3D application development. Normally, one out of these three processes is utilized to create such a model: photogrammetry, scanning, or modeling.
Photogrammetry is the technology of interpreting information or creating three-dimensional models by combining multiple images. In terms of 3D development, this method is often used for making maps and navigation applications. However, if a highly detailed and flexible model is required, photogrammetry is not the best option.
3D scanning is the practice of analyzing a physical object to create its three-dimensional physical representation. Based on the data on the item’s shape, dimensions, color, etc., a precise model is produced. The main drawback of volumetric scanning is that it can only be done with a specific device. However, software for turning a regular phone or camera into a 3D scanner is constantly developed.
3D modeling is the process of manually creating a digital object with specialized software. It’s the best way to get the most accurate and comprehensive 3D items. Nevertheless, it’s also the most expensive and time-consuming technique out of the three described.
3D Development Challenges & Best Practices
3D software development can be quite tricky, so learn as much as you can about the process before starting out. Here are some of the challenges one might face when creating a 3D application, as well as best practices to make it easier.
- Creating applications for devices with low technical requirements
- Optimizing 3D model rendering time
- Choosing suitable tools (APIs/SDKs/frameworks) for building 3D apps for iOS/Android
- Employing third-party libraries
- Using C++ for mobile app development
- Minimizing 3D model load time
- Simplifying the geometry of the model
- Employing a lower rendering quality profile
- Optimizing the displayed model for a smaller screen
- Thoroughly testing the 3D app
Best Tools for Building a 3D Application
Besides the well-known mobile tech stack components like Swift, Java, or React Native, you need special software and frameworks to develop a 3D app. Let’s look at the rundown of some popular tools for creating such an application.
Unity 3D is a software suitable for both beginners and experienced developers. One of the main benefits of the tool is a vast library of templates, 2D and 3D assets, and SDKs. Though the platform is mainly used for creating games, apps for multiple industries, from architecture to automotive, can be built with it.
With Unity, users can:
- Develop realistic real-time 3D images and videos
- Build interactive customer experiences
- Create three-dimensional environments for architecture
- Design virtual showrooms and other immersive spaces
One can also become a part of a massive development community and receive help from other members on various problems and queries. There is plenty of learning materials and training sessions available, too.
Hoops Visualize is a graphics engine for creating high-performance 3D apps. The platform provides a convenient API that lets developers add three-dimensional models to applications effortlessly.
Some of the technical features include:
- Optimized interactions in the software
- A flexible graphics display
- Ability to view datasets in real-time
- Advanced GPU effects
- Three-dimensional text support
- Optimized rendering
- Support of various UIs and languages
React 360 is a framework for building 2D, 3D, and VR interfaces. It can be utilized to make media viewers, virtual tours, games, and more. This framework is especially suitable to make a 3D application that works on both mobile and web.
Key features of React 360 are:
- Ability to produce 2D/3D models
- Solid user interface
- High-quality multimedia experience
JanusVR is a 3D development software that somewhat reminds of a web browser. However, it doesn’t mean this platform is anything less capable than other similar tools. Janus can be used to build traditional websites, separate pages, 2D/3D environments, etc.
Highlights of JanusVR:
- Ease of use
- HTML-like application syntax
- Integrated multi-user support
How Much Does it Cost to Make a 3D App?
Even though one might think so, 3D apps are not always extremely expensive. If you’re planning to create a relatively simple application with only one three-dimensional model included, it will set you back around $30,000 (the price is based on our rates).
However, when you need a complex app that involves an immersive 3D experience or hardware synchronization, expect it to cost up to $70,000, or more.
Here’s a table comparing rates of app developers’ all over the world as of June 2020:
|Region||Hourly rate||Basic level 3D app|
The Riseapps team has extensive knowledge of incorporating 3D into apps for multiple industries, like healthcare, e-commerce, or on-demand. We’ll be happy to help you choose the best software solution for realizing your ideas.
Our Experience in Mobile 3D App Development
Print My Glasses
Print My Glasses is an awesome example of 3D technology, enhancing e-commerce. The app gives people who are looking for eyewear a chance to make a quick yet personalized purchase online instead of going to the optician.
Instead of multiple applications and complicated setup, users only need to download the Print My Glasses app and install a small camera on their smartphone. The hardware in question is the Bellus3D Face Camera Pro. It’s a third-party tool that provides a highly-detailed face scan and is integrated into the application with an SDK.
Creating a model of your face takes less than a minute with this app. With a finished 3D scan, users can then choose the glasses they like, customize them, and place an order right from the application.
InteliWound is a value-based wound treatment application. With the help of this app and a special camera, a patient can take a volumetric scan of their injury and send it to a doctor. The latter can examine the 3D model and prescribe the treatment for the wound.
As InteliWound is meant to be used in the U.S., the app is HIPAA compliant, so all the patients’ data is stored and transferred securely. The platform is built on Amazon Web Services to improve scalability. Some additional features include a custom algorithm for treatment instructions and integrated DME and supply chain.
It is stated that healthcare organizations, which use the app, “have immediate and measurable financial returns and improved outcomes from the first wound management engagement.”
On-demand apps are used not only to find a ride or order food nowadays, and InkLnk is a great example of that. This is a platform where tattoo masters can find clients and vise versa. Artists can share their portfolio and indicate their rates, and customers can look for the tattoo designs of their dreams.
To be sure about their lifelong commitment, users can apply the future tattoo onto a three-dimensional model of the body and see how it will look on a specific body part. Such an application of this technology shows that we can benefit from 3D in our daily lives more than we think.
The application is built with React Native, and using it allowed developing InkLnk versions for both Android and iOS at a more affordable price. Artists and their clients can communicate, schedule appointments, and make and receive payments right in the app.
3D no longer only refers to movies. We see a huge number of innovative uses of this technology every day. Many mobile applications can be majorly improved with 3D features, providing a unique experience and increased convenience to their users.
There are plenty of tools available to build a 3D app, so make sure you choose those suitable for your particular application idea.
In terms of development as a whole, the process will depend on the type of software you want to create. You can head over to our blog and find many guides on making various types of mobile and web apps.
Whether you’re certain about including three-dimensional models in your apps or just looking for a way to make it better, consulting with a professional will make your life a lot easier. Use the form below to connect with us, and we will tell you how to make a 3D app perfect for your needs!