The Top Augmented Reality Companies in the US

By 2020, there should be a billion augmented reality users worldwide, making AR a huge, rapidly growing pie. 

And the only way to get a slice is to hire the right development team for your AR strategy. 

To give you a head start on that, we’ve curated this list of the top 20 augmented reality companies working in the US.

Right after the table below, you can discover the criteria these companies fulfilled to make the list. We’ve also created a step-by-step guide to help you make the most out of your AR project.

The Top Augmented Reality Companies of 2019

Rank Company Hourly Rate Office Website
1 $100–$149 Chicago, IL Learn More
This award-winning creative technology agency produces next-generation digital/physical experiences for world-class brands. It uses breakthrough technology to create unforgettable moments of connection between people and organizations.
2 $150–$199 Dallas, TX Learn More
Known for its award-winning work in AR, Groove Jones is among the top augmented reality companies in the USA. Its team—with members from diverse fields—and its proprietary set of technologies assist the company in delivering best-in-class solutions to clients.
3 $100–$149 New York City, NY Learn More
Founded in 2003, Gramercy Tech specializes in using imaginative approaches for concept creation, design, software development, and production. Its projects stem from its ability to understand the unique needs of its clients, making it one of the top augmented reality companies in NYC.
4 $25–$49 Nashua, NH Learn More
For three decades, this trusted custom software development vendor has built a reputation for excellence by creating robust software solutions for entrepreneurs, startups, and Fortune 500s. It has one of the largest teams of engineers, artists, designers, and project managers in the industry.
5 $25–$49 Walnut, CA Learn More
Quytech is an award-winning company with extensive experience developing various immersive solutions that are used by customers globally. Working with AR since 2011, it specializes in providing end-to-end solutions to enterprises and startups to fine-tune their marketing strategies.
6 $100–$149 Los Angeles, CA Learn More
Among the best augmented reality companies in Los Angeles, CitrusBits is a mobile app development agency that designs and develops impactful mobile apps and responsive mobile content for businesses of all types, including big names like Burger King, Symantec, and Sotheby’s.
7 Undisclosed Austin, TX Learn More
Mutual Mobile combines the roles of developer, product builder, service provider, designer, and tech consultant. One of the most innovative AR companies in the US, it unites the physical and digital worlds with business solutions and user experiences that change how people live, work, and play.
8 Undisclosed Austin, TX Learn More
Subvrsive’s team works with businesses and brands wanting to rethink what’s already been thought and move things forward. The company helps some of the world’s leading enterprises achieve a positive ROI thanks to its deep expertise in augmented reality app development.
9 $25–$49 New York City, NY Learn More
Established in 2011, Hyperlink InfoSystem has been able to create dynamic and cost-effective solutions for clients throughout the world. This company is tightly structured such that it can offer accessible results and solutions for a variety of businesses.
10 Undisclosed Culver City, CA Learn More
Talespin discovers, develops, and deploys immersive tech solutions, building the foundation for the age of experience. With extensive expertise in new immersive mediums, it’s among the best augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality companies in the US.
11 $25–$49 New York City, NY Learn More
The team at HQSoftware focuses on quality, not “growing big.” Created by people who’ve faced the same problems businesses face today, the company prides itself on hiring motivated, open-minded professionals who develop close-working client relationships and offer comprehensive solutions.
12 $150–$199 Boston, MA Learn More
hedgehog lab is a global technology consultancy considered among the top AR companies in Europe. It specializes in multi-platform software and connected device innovation, with a focus on working with its clients on R&D on mobile and emerging platforms.
13 $100–$149 Emeryville, CA Learn More
The team at FS Studio sees itself as enablers, bringing clients’ ambitions to market by developing unique products. Its experience and skills span web to native client-side development, from low-level firmware and driver support to high-level application development and optimization.
14 $50–$99 Melville, NY Learn More
Live Animations has over 200,000 hours of augmented reality development experience, with over 15 million downloads and over 150 million user interactions for its AR apps. The company delivers results that boost sales and improve customer engagement for its clients.
15 $25–$49 Brooklyn, NY Learn More
Skywell Software’s big team of skilled professionals helps businesses stay competitive. One of the best augmented reality companies in Europe, it assists clients in all stages of software development and can work either on a project base or set a dedicated team to satisfy the client’s specific needs.
16 $25–$49 New York City, NY Learn More
AVRspot transforms how people purchase homes, decorate spaces, or get a first-rate education by providing them with cutting-edge technology. Its team of augmented reality developers harnesses computer vision, object recognition and motion tracking, photogrammetry, and 3D laser scanning.
17 $25–$49 Atlanta, GA Learn More
MobiDev is known for creating complex business-driven solutions, with a focus on transparency, guaranteed product delivery, and ongoing evolution. MobiDev has created and delivered more than 350 products, bringing innovation to enterprises and emerging companies around the world.
18 $25–$49 St. Petersburg, FL Learn More
N-iX is an augmented reality company with a Florida office and a global team of over 900 full-time experts. The company has won several industry awards, is among the fastest-growing development companies in Europe, and is known for providing custom AR solutions for its global clients.
19 $50–$99 LA Palma, CA Learn More
This agile, full-stack company helps drive success through cutting-edge digital transformations across end-to-end web, cloud, and mobile app development. Since 2008, it has driven a high ROI for US clients by helping them acquire more customers, improve operations, lower costs, and outperform rivals.
20 $150–$199 El Segundo, CA Learn More
This Los Angeles-based augmented reality agency also specializes in design and development for mobile app, web, and emerging technology products. Its team specializes in building on existing products, innovating new products, and refining software development processes.

How We Rank the Top Augmented Reality Companies

We believe in subjecting the companies ranked here to a stringent set of criteria. These criteria cover a vast set of factors related to the companies’ experience and offered services. We begin with a long list of companies known for their work in the domain we’re covering and then evaluate each of them based on a detailed methodology. Here are the factors we consider:

Website Visit

The first step is a visit to the website of each AR company under evaluation. Each of these websites proves a valuable resource in understanding their capabilities in the following ways:

  • It gives us a preliminary idea of what services the AR agencies offer before we get down to a more thorough assessment.
  • It provides us with an understanding of each company’s history and how long they’ve been on the market.
  • We can access the AR companies’ portfolios of past and present projects, giving us insight into their clients’ reactions based on their testimonials.

Hands-On Evaluation

As far as possible, we test the AR solutions listed in the agency’s portfolio. This means downloading the apps or visiting the sites mentioned and playing around with the AR features to experience firsthand how well these have been executed. 

Objective Word-of-Mouth

The testimonials on an agency’s website are almost always complimentary in nature. For a more objective idea of how clients rate an agency’s final products, employees, and work culture, we also visit third-party review sites like Clutch and Glassdoor. 

We appreciate that even the best augmented reality development companies can end up with a few negative reviews. As long as these negative reviews don’t outnumber the positive ones and don’t stand out for any specific reason, we won’t immediately remove the company from consideration. However, negative reviews give us an idea of the limitations of a company’s services, which contributes to the overall ranking.

Services Evaluation

The development of an AR app isn’t a simple process. It encompasses multiple operations, and a development company working with AR technology needs to adhere to certain best practices in every single one of these to ensure flawless project execution. That’s why we’ve put together a breakdown of the range of services we look into, how, and why.

However, before we dive into it, we should understand that unlike virtual reality companies—who create an entirely new world—the development of AR deals with adding digital elements to real surroundings. There are certain specific areas in which a company working in AR needs to excel.

Types of AR

We first evaluate the types of AR the companies in our list are proficient in. The main types of AR include the following:

Marker-Based AR

It’s also called recognition-based or object/image recognition-based AR. The core idea is that the camera on a device (phone, tablet, etc.) obtains a visual of the surroundings, and the software on the device recognizes a particular “marker,” which then triggers the software to provide an output. Simple outputs could be playing a short video or audio file, while complex outputs may include launching an animation or interactive visual effect. 

The marker gives the augmented reality app a visual clue or trigger to position the AR content. The marker can be an image, a logo, or any type of distinguishable 2D object that the camera can recognize. Once the marker recognition is complete, the marker on the screen is replaced with a 3D version of the corresponding object. This allows the user to investigate the object in greater detail and from various angles. Rotating the marker would rotate the 3D image as well.

Markerless AR

Also known as location-based or position-based augmented reality apps, these utilize a GPS, a compass, a gyroscope, or an accelerometer to provide data based on a user’s location and by predicting where the user is focusing. Based on the location-based data, the user gets to see certain AR content, which typically includes maps, directions, local business information, ads, and pop-ups.

With the advanced location-based features in most smartphones, this type of AR has become extremely popular among AR companies.

Projection-Based AR

This type of AR projects artificial light onto real-world surfaces and then detects the user’s interaction with that projected light. The widespread uses of projection-based AR techniques can be used to create deception about the position, orientation, and depth of an object. 

Augmented reality developers might use this type of projection-based AR to make it possible to project a 3D interactive hologram into midair.

Superimposition-Based AR

In this type of AR, the original view of an object is partially or fully superimposed by a newly augmented view of the same object. Object recognition plays a key role here, as the superimposition cannot take place if the original object isn’t recognized. 

A common example is the IKEA AR furniture catalog. By downloading an app and scanning selected pages in their printed or digital catalog, users can place virtual IKEA furniture in their own home with the help of augmented reality.

Businesses now commonly use a combination of different types of AR to enhance the visual cues presented to consumers to encourage them to engage with their brands and products. Therefore, it’s essential that augmented reality development companies have proven expertise in all the main types of AR.

Enhanced Layers Creation

As mentioned above, AR deals with adding digital elements to real-world surroundings. Designing for AR involves three main factors:

Input and Output Definition

Defining an experience’s input and output determines what elements a user can or cannot interact with on the interface—i.e., it delineates the boundaries between the augmented and the real. Inputs can range from physical gestures like hand swipes and facial expressions to the buttons available on a device. Outputs are typically 3D models of one or more products, potentially with a configurable scale, color, orientation, or combination thereof.

Environmental Considerations

In augmented reality apps, the interface isn’t bound to a physical screen, but there are still area constraints. These constraints come from the user’s spatial considerations, which the designer needs to account for. Thus, AR apps might encapsulate a public environment, like the Nintendo Wii, or a very intimate space, like in Google Glass. The designers must ensure their applications function well within their environment.

User Fatigue

Interaction with the AR environment can be exhausting for the user, and any good augmented reality company will be cognizant of these interaction costs. First, repeated, high-effort interactions that can be physically and/or mentally tiring should be avoided. And second, a cluttered interface with too many 3D visual elements sharing the screen should be done away with.

Design Tools

Apart from examining the companies’ past work and how they score on the above three factors, we also try to gain an understanding of their team’s agility with the most common design tools. The chief among these include the following:

Maya

Developed by Autodesk, this is one of the most popular AR development tools for utilizing 3D across a range of industries and use-cases. The reason for its popularity is its extensive toolkit, which covers modeling, rendering, lighting, UV mapping, sculpting, and rigging. It also has highly capable animation tools, along with support for a wide range of easily implemented plugins.

3ds Max

Also from the Autodesk stable, this tool has a number of similarities with Maya. However, while Maya is the go-to tool for 3D animation work, 3ds Max is known for its utility in design visualization. It also has a more streamlined layout, which many designers prefer.

Blender

A particularly great augmented reality platform for creating painted assets and stylized art, Blender’s greatest plus point is that it’s free to use. This also leads to certain issues. For example, the wide range of community authors make guidance inconsistent, and it’s difficult to find the right tutorial to match the toolkit version. It also has a slightly confusing UI and GUI, but designers familiar with other 3D software tools can get the hang of it relatively quickly.

Houdini

This tool’s most unique feature is its commitment to iterative design and teamwork, making it particularly popular in the game design and VFX space. Using a “node-based workflow,” Houdini essentially creates a “recipe” for a design process based upon every action taken being stored inside interconnected nodes. These can be shared between development teams, meaning augmented reality companies can share best practices and tweak or completely reshape a design based on what happened at a particular point in the design process. 

ZBrush

This tool is mainly used for creating high-resolution models for games and animation. It’s invaluable for finalizing details on high-poly models, particularly when dealing with organic objects like humans and animals. If high asset quality is a key part of the AR project, but the designer doesn’t want to burden users with an annoyingly large package size, this is a great way to solve the issue.

Other commonly used design tools include Tinkercad, 3D Slash, Voxel Builder, MagicaVoxel, Autodesk 123d, Sculptris, Sketchup, Onshape, Fusion360, Solidworks, and Cinema 4D.

While it’s possible to outsource the design process to a specialized design company, the best AR companies typically offer it as one of their services, and we check if the companies on our list have this capability. 

Actual Development

This brings us to the stage of actual development. These companies must excel in certain software development kits (SDKs). The AR SDK is the core technological software engine that powers the development and creation of apps and experiences. Its main role is to fuse digital content and information with the real world. The most prominent SDKs are as follows:

Kudan
    • Platforms: Android, Unity, iOS
    • Pricing: Free and commercial licenses
    • Programming languages: C and C++
    • Key features: These include image recognition, the mapping of additional elements based on user location and recognized images, markerless tracking, and the mapping of additional elements via a separate component over OpenGL.
    • Capabilities: Due to the unlimited number of recognized images, it requires less storage space on a device.
    • Limitations: The augmented reality developers using it can’t directly access OpenGL, and it has insufficient development documentation.
Vuforia
      • Platforms: Android, UWP, Unity Editor, iOS
      • Pricing: It offers free and commercial licenses. The free version has limitations in cloud recognition and puts the Vuforia watermark on the end product.
      • Programming languages: It provides API in C++, Java, Objective-C++, and .Net through an extension to the Unity augmented reality game development engine.
      • Key features: Vuforia has real-object, text, environment, and image recognition; target tracking; mapping for additional items with OpenGL; object scanning for recognition; and virtual buttons.
      • Capabilities: This includes support for virtual reality devices and a test app with comments showing Vuforia’s capabilities.
      • Limitations: It lacks a complete framework manual. Instructions and short tips are given randomly, but they can’t replace the required documentation.
Wikitude
      • Platforms: Android, iOS, smart glasses, Epson moverio, Vuzix M-100, ODG R-7, PhoneGap, Titanium, Xamarin, Unity
      • Pricing: Free and commercial licenses
      • Programming languages: Java and C++
      • Key features: The best are 3D tracking technology (SLAM), image recognition and tracking, geo-location AR for apps, improved extended tracking, advanced camera options, and positioning.
      • Capabilities: The free version is fully powered.
      • Limitations: The free version comes with a watermark.

Other prominent AR SDKs include ARKit, ARCore, EasyAR, Onirix, MaxST, Pikkart AR SDK, DeepAR, Lumin (Magic Leap), and MixedReality Toolkit (HoloLens)

Obviously, expertise with one or more of these augmented reality development tools requires the development team to be comfortable with a variety of programming languages, like C++ and Java, as well as other aspects like working with the Unity editor.

Hardware

While smartphones are the most common hardware used for AR-based applications, we understand that your needs might be different. There are, of course, several other hardware options when it comes to AR. Therefore, it’s important for us to check if the AR companies can build for the following devices:

Mobile Devices (Smartphones and Tablets)

These are the most widely available and best-suited devices for AR mobile apps, which can range from pure gaming and entertainment to business analytics, sports, and social networking. AR technology can be used in mobile devices through location services or the camera or a combination of both. 

PCs and Smart TVs

These devices are becoming quite common and support AR by relaying virtual objects over the input from a webcam. Since it’s still difficult to manipulate a tracker in front of the screen, there aren’t many AR applications on PCs or smart TVs, but the segment is seeing more and more attention from augmented reality companies.

Special AR Devices

These are designed primarily or solely for AR experiences. An obvious example is the heads up display (HUD), which sends data to a transparent display directly in the user’s view. Originally introduced to train military fighter pilots, now these devices have applications in aviation, the automotive industry, manufacturing, sports, and so on.

Smart Glasses

The most well-known of these devices is Google Glass, but others like Meta 2 Glasses, Laster See-Thru, and Laforge AR eyewear have become available as well. These units can display notifications from your smartphone, assist assembly line workers, help users access content hands-free, and so on.

Smart Lenses

These take the AR experience one step further. Augmented reality hardware companies like Samsung and Sony have announced the introduction of smart lenses for AR, with the former working as an accessory to smartphones, and the latter functioning as a stand-alone AR device.

Virtual Retinal Displays

These systems are still unavailable for common use. They create images by projecting laser light into the human eye and aiming at bright, high-contrast, high-resolution images.

Testing & QA

The top AR companies ensure that their products are thoroughly tested before they’re handed over to the client. Verifying that the final product adheres to the client’s requirements and is functional from top to bottom, with no glitches, is an integral part of the development process. Meanwhile, the guidelines for testing AR applications are still being developed because testing for AR is so different from testing for other applications—nullifying the utility of traditional testing tools. As we can see, there are a number of challenges that augmented reality developer teams have to overcome:

Non-standard Interfaces and 3D Space

AR apps go far beyond the standard WIMP (window, icon, menu, and pointing device) interface model, allowing users to interact with the apps in a range of creative ways, including the 3D space. Testing for AR apps, therefore, needs to include new standards in GUI and usability testing, which would reflect all the unique multidimensional relations between the user and the augmented world.

Motion Testing

Ensuring an accurate superimposition of digital data onto an image of the real world in motion is important for an AR agency. Users don’t want augmented objects floating from their intended positions when the device is moved a certain way. To achieve this, the movement and rotation of the device must be perfectly translated from the physical camera to its virtual representation—paving the way for a landmine of potential bugs in AR apps.

Hardware Variability

The plethora of devices, operating systems, screen sizes, camera resolutions, and several other variables can make AR app-testing a nightmare. There are some emulators like iOS Simulator or Android Studio, but the replication of the actual user experience isn’t perfect. So augmented reality companies usually need access to each device to test all the components of the new technology in a physical location. This, in turn, can run up against budget and convenience limitations. 

Legal Implications

A comprehensive legal framework with regard to AR application testing hasn’t been created yet. The physical nature of the application aside, it will soon become necessary to test how one AR application interacts with another so that privacy is maintained. Data privacy is an important legal issue that’s becoming increasingly prominent as the world becomes more digitalized and cybercrime continues to proliferate.

How to Select the Best Augmented Reality App Development Company for You

  • Define your goals and what you want to achieve so you have values to compare against. Match the specialties needed to fulfill those goals with the services offered by the vendor.
  • Define your budget for the development project.
  • Find out if the vendor has worked with other companies in your industry.
  • Determine if you need design services and if the vendor provides those services.
  • Find out if the vendor works with companies your size.
  • Ask questions about the communication style of the vendor team. For example, does the team follow an agile methodology? Is the team working on your AR development reachable? Is it based within your country or overseas?
  • Check if the vendor team says no to impractical demands or deadlines. Professional developers will always tell you when your demands are unjust and guide you on various aspects of the development process.
  • Check if the vendor is available for long-term support, technical consulting and training, and similar maintenance services.
  • Clearly understand the different elements of the augmented reality app development cost. Does the vendor work on a fixed price model or a time and material model? Are there any hidden charges involved?  
  • Find out if the vendor is flexible in scaling its team up or down depending on the project’s requirements.

Things to Do Before Sealing the Deal with an Agency

  • Give them a breakdown of your goals.
  • Provide clear information on who your target audience is. UX is key to a good AR experience, and even the best AR companies will want info on your targeted users to craft the UX properly.
  • Be clear about what you want to offer your users. This way, the agency can propose and build the best solution to achieve your goals.
  • Share the range of services you require clearly. It helps the team plan out the process with your consultation, allot its resources accordingly, and even inform you if some of these services are outside the company’s capabilities.
  • Be clear about your budgetary and time constraints.
  • Finally, develop a good understanding of the project management and reporting style the company you’re interested in follows.

That brings us to the end of this detailed coverage of the leading augmented reality companies working in the US and the important criteria we’ve ranked them on. We are sure this comprehensive article will not only help you partner with the agency best suited to your needs but also appreciate the range of specialties this agency should excel at.

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