From weekend AR demo to release on ProductHunt

As a designer, of course, I do like typography. Calligraphy itself have something hypnotizing. It’s something that you want to do a lot, but as usual, don’t have enough free time. Over time I collected a good amount of different pens but haven’t drawn a lot. From another point, augmented reality is new technology, that makes my heart beating faster. So I decided to combine them and make some demos to play a little bit with letters.

I tried to use ARKit, as it’s the best solution for augmented reality, but after few tests. I realized that camera can’t recognize and keep track of blank paper. I thought that some features around the empty area should help. But after a user starts drawing and keeps his hand in tracking area ARkit become interrupted and lose tracking.

Therefore I had to use something to what I can connect art, and draw on blank paper. AR.js that uses A-Frame is the best solution. With simple HTML code, I was able easily to build a scene.
After I made experiences I needed landing. I used Webflow to build simple page. Also, I needed https secured page to allow browser get access to the web-camera. For hosting, domain and SSL Certificate I used GoDaddy.

I’m not so good at making calligraphy so I picked beautiful designs from Pinterest. I tried to find creators, and write them that I used their designs. Only one of them asked me to delete his designs as he believes only in offline studying 🤷‍

After I got everything done. I posted the link on Twitter, Designer News, and Reddit. And obviously, nothing exceptional happened. I got around one thousand visitors in a week, what was good enough to start digging in google analytics. I keep enforcing people around me to try drawing. I even carried everywhere the peace paper with hero marker. So while time, I was able to collect some feedback.

One day after I posted the link to a-frame slack chat, one guy featured learncalligraphy.today on Product Hunt. I was already 5 hours late for 24 hours race but decided to promote it. Eventually, I got few hundreds of upvotes, a lot of feedback and more data on my google analytics page. What allows me to make some summary

Demo good, product better 🚀

I do like experiment with new tech, and already collected a lot of demos, and even more unfinished demos. But it’s the first time that demos for fun grown into the product. I spend twice more time for polishing and preparing other stuff. But got much more positive feedback that encourages me experimenting more. I definitely will try to find concepts that have more potential to grow into an independent product.

Build something is easy 🛠

I keep wondering how easy can be to build things. For augmenting art I used the library of Jerome Ethine AR.js that uses A-Frame by Mozilla VR for defining objects and scene. For the website, I used very code-friendly builder Webflow.

Friendly community 🤜🤛

Open source community around a-frame is very friendly and always ready to help. Documentation for such brand new solution is more than good.

User case is a key 🗝

I played with AR.js for a long time but felt myself that it isn’t the best solution as it uses a marker. For example, Vuforia can use anything as a marker or even ARKit that don’t need a marker at all. Find an idea that needs trackable marker out of picture center wasn’t easy, but calligraphy is a godsend.

Hype around AR is still here 🔥

I thought that hype for augmented reality already gone. But people still are highly interested in everything that is related to augmented reality. Even in so simple projects as learning calligraphy with augmented reality:)

People don’t use app 🙅‍

But let’s be honest. Regardless of all positive feedback, the statistic doesn’t lie. Google analytics says that only third of users opened the website on a mobile device, where AR experience is only available. On pages with experiences, users are spending no more than one minute on average. To finish the simplest art takes at least 3–4 minutes. 
So I would say that not so many people really tried finish tutorials.

Print marker is extremely difficult 🖨

From my perspective, it’s main pain point. Even have printer next to you doesn’t mean that you’ll make so big effort to print something to try another thing on the internet.

Unfortunately, head-mounted displays are not here 🤳

Maybe I already got used to this and stopped thinking how uncomfortable is using a phone for augmented reality. But a lot of users complained how great would be to get the head mounted display.

Conclusion

Positive feedback encouraged me, and I started looking for a way to grow this project. Right now I’m living in Dubai and really like how looks Arabic calligraphy. So I thought about create set of tutorials for learning Arabic handwriting. 
But despite that, I decided to keep this idea in my backlog and continue studying new approaches in augmented and virtual reality.

For example, check my previous article about human factor in virtual reality data visualization.


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