Building Augmented Reality (AR) Web Applications with JavaScript

Augmented Reality (AR) has revolutionised the way we interact with digital content, seamlessly blending the virtual world with the real world. It has found applications in various domains, including gaming, education, e-commerce, and industrial training. AR provides immersive and interactive experiences that enhance user engagement and open up new possibilities for businesses and developers. With the advancements in web technologies, it is now possible to create AR experiences directly in the browser using JavaScript, making it accessible to a broader audience. In this article, we will explore the process of building AR web applications with JavaScript, along with code examples and detailed explanations.

Setting Up the Development Environment

To begin building AR web applications, we need to set up our development environment. JavaScript, being a versatile programming language, is widely used for web development. It allows developers to create interactive and dynamic experiences for users. You will need a text editor or an integrated development environment (IDE) to write your JavaScript code. Choose an editor that suits your preferences and provides features like syntax highlighting and code suggestions.

In addition to the text editor/IDE, you will also need a web browser to run and test your AR web application. Most modern browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, support the necessary technologies for AR, including WebGL and WebRTC. Make sure you are using an updated version of the browser to ensure compatibility with the latest web standards.

To get started, follow these steps −

  • Install a text editor or IDE of your choice (e.g., Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, or Atom).

  • Create a new directory for your project.

  • Open the directory in your chosen text editor/IDE.

  • Create an HTML file (e.g., index.html) and a JavaScript file (e.g., app.js) in the project directory.

Adding AR.js to Your Project

AR.js is a popular JavaScript library that simplifies the creation of AR experiences in the browser. It provides a convenient set of tools and features to integrate AR functionality into your web applications. To include AR.js in your project, you have two options: downloading the library directly or utilising a content delivery network (CDN). For simplicity, we will use the CDN approach, which allows us to easily access the library from a remote server.

To use AR.js in your project, you can either download the library from the official website ( or include it via a content delivery network (CDN). For simplicity, let's use the CDN approach −

  • Open your index.html file in your text editor/IDE.

  • Add the following script tag to the head section of your HTML file.

<script src=""></script>

By including the AR.js library in your HTML file using a script tag, you gain access to its extensive capabilities. AR.js leverages computer vision algorithms to recognize and track markers, which act as anchors for your AR content. These markers can be printed patterns or physical objects that the AR application identifies through the device's camera.

Creating the AR Scene

With the AR.js library set up, we can now create a basic AR scene. In this example, we will render a 3D model on a marker. The marker is a predefined pattern recognized by AR.js, allowing us to overlay digital content onto the real world.

In your index.html file, add the following markup to create an empty scene -

   <a-scene embedded arjs>
      <a-marker preset="hiro">
            position="0 0 0"
            scale="0.05 0.05 0.05"

Replace "./path/to/your/model.gltf" with the actual path to your 3D model file.

Understanding the Code

Let's break down the code we just added and understand its purpose −

  • <a-scene> − This element represents the AR scene and contains all the AR-related content.

  • <a-marker> − This element defines the marker on which the 3D model will be rendered. In this example, we are using the "hiro" marker preset, but you can explore other presets or even create your own markers.

  • <a-entity> − This element represents the 3D model. Adjust the position and scale attributes to position and resize your model.

  • <a-camera-static> − This element defines the camera used to view the AR scene.

Testing the AR Application

Now that we have set up the basic AR scene, let's test our application in a web browser −

  • Save your changes in index.html and open the file in a web browser.

  • Allow the browser to access your webcam when prompted.

  • Point the webcam at the "hiro" marker, and you should see the 3D model rendered on top of it.

Extending the AR Application

The example we have covered so far represents a simple AR scene with a static 3D model. However, AR.js offers a range of features and possibilities to enhance your AR applications.

Let's explore a few ideas to extend your AR application further −

The example we have covered so far represents a simple AR scene with a static 3D model. However, AR.js offers a range of features and possibilities to enhance your AR applications. Let's explore a few ideas to extend your AR application further −

  • Interactivity  Make your AR elements interactive by adding event listeners to detect user interactions, such as clicks or gestures. You can trigger animations, display additional information, or allow users to manipulate the AR content.

  • Dynamic Content  Instead of a static 3D model, you can dynamically load models or images based on user input or external data sources. This allows for more dynamic and personalised AR experiences.

  • Location-Based AR  Utilise the user's geolocation to create location-based AR experiences, where AR content is tied to specific real-world locations. Users can explore their surroundings and discover AR content relevant to their physical location.

  • Multi-marker AR  Expand your AR scene by adding multiple markers, each triggering different AR elements or interactions. This opens up possibilities for creating complex and immersive AR experiences with multiple interactive elements.

  • Integration with APIs  Connect your AR application with external APIs to fetch real-time data or incorporate additional functionality. For example, you can fetch product information from an e-commerce API and display it as AR content when the corresponding marker is detected.


In this article, we explored the process of building augmented reality (AR) web applications using JavaScript. We discussed the importance of AR in various domains and the accessibility it brings through web technologies. We set up the development environment, added the AR.js library to our project, and created a basic AR scene displaying a 3D model on a marker. We also explored the potential for extending our AR application with interactivity, dynamic content, location-based features, multi-marker functionality, and API integration.

Updated on: 24-Jul-2023


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