Tenge 3D: how to create a mobile application with AR-support in 5 days


This year, at the end of January, the Russian JSC Goznak launched a mobile app dedicated to new banknotes of the Bank of Russia with a par value of 200 and 2000 rubles. The application allows to learn more about the design and signs of the authenticity of new banknotes and also to check each specific banknote for the presence of security elements using camera on smartphone.

But the most interesting thing in this app was interactive function of viewing the elements on banknotes, realized with the help of AR (Augmented Reality) technology. After a while, appeared a similar app Tenge 3D from Kazakhstani developers. We talked with Bakdaulet Inkarbekov, the developer of the Qart Innovators team that developed the application.

– Bakdaulet, tell us about the QART Innovators team, do you have any other products besides the Tenge 3D app?

– Qart Innovators – a team of emerging specialists in the field of new technologies, united by a common goal. We want to develop technologies of Virtual (VR) and Augmented (AR) realities. There are three members in our team: Tursynbekova Aiym is a designer, Adishov Aybar is a video editor and I, Inkarbekov Bakdaulet, is a developer and 3D-modeler. As a company, we have not yet formed, but this is what we aspire to. Tenge 3D is our first app, we plan to create many other interesting and useful apps.

– Why did you decide to make the Tenge 3D application?

– It happened in the middle of February, when I went to social network, my attention was attracted by app that shows elements on Russian rubles using the technology of augmented reality. I made a search for similar applications for our banknote, but the attempts were futile: I didn’t find a similar application for tenge. After discussing it with the team, we decided to create such an application.

– It turns out, that the idea of developing app came on the wave of popularity of the Russian application of “Banknote”. Knowing the popularity of the Russian app, were you sure that the Kazakhstani analogue will be also popular?

– Yes, the idea came spontaneously, after popularity of app with the Russian banknote. But we were not going to do the exact same app, but wanted to add something of our own, so that people had an interest in trying to “revive” all the banknotes. During the discussion of the idea, we came to conclusion to make a video on the background of the map of Kazakhstan on the reverse side of the banknote and on the front side to make a 3D-model of the monument depicted on the banknote.

We believed that our application will be popular, but we were not sure for 100%. The first day, when we launched app in the Play Store, it was downloaded by 9 people. The second day was about the same figure. But on the third day, when we made a virus video and sent to large groups in the social networks, the video was published, more and more people began to download and share each other. As a result, the application downloaded more than 500 times.

Now, a month later, in the Play Store, the app downloaded more than 80,000 times. Due to the fact that we did not have an iOS developer, we could not launch the application on the App Store. I’m sure if the application was launched on iOS, the figure would be larger in twice.

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Demonstration of 3D-models in the app

– Tell us more about the realization of the app. What technologies did you use?

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– We developed the app on the Unity 3D platform, 3D-models of monuments created in the 3ds Max graphics program, video editing did in Power Director, and for design we used Photoshop and CorelDraw.

– What about the difficulties in the development?

– Difficulties were in the creation of 3D-models. When we all prepared and checked on the computer, everything worked well. But when we started testing on the phone it was another story. Phone worked slowly when the 3D-model was shown. Because RAM (Random-access memory) on the phone is smaller than on the computer, the device simply did not have time to process the data of the model and the phone worked slowly. To solve this problem, we made the models simpler (lowpoly model) – more simplified, without small details and complex textures. Also, there were difficulties in linking a video with a banknote: when it pointed to the opposite side, there was no sound. As a solution, another audio record was placed separately from the video.

There was also another problem, more significant for users – the weight of the application. In the beginning it weighed about 100 MB, and it was necessary to optimize the entire application. We removed all the unnecessary details, compressed the video, simplified 3D-models, in the end it was 54 MB. We are glad for it, although it turned out a little more than we expected.

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Demonstration of video in the app

– How long did it take to develop the app?

After the popularity of the application “Banknotes”, we feared that a similar application can be released other developers, so first of all we tried to do quickly. The main thing was to show the idea of ​​revivaling of the banknotes and put an emphasis on the quality of 3D models and video. It took 60% of the total time that we spent on the creation. We tried not to linger, so the app was made in 5 days. Due to the fact that everything was done quickly and simplistically, the application turned out a bit “raw”, but in terms of design and functionality I think everything is at an average level. In general, we are satisfied with the result.

– Do you plan to update, add something new to the application?

– I think this kind of applications are for using for once: people download once, see how it works, they will show this magic to friends and then will forget about it. We are planning to make only one update to fix some bugs and add some banknotes. Also we are going launch the app on iOS, after that no more additions.

– Your advice to those developers who are trying to create their own on the wave of success of other popular applications. For which type of apps should they pay attention to?

– We did not really try to somehow become popular on the wave of success of another app, to make money or something else. Our goal was to show to the Kazakh people that this kind of apps can be also created here, in Kazakhstan, the technology of augmented reality here is also developing. To developers I can hardly advise something, as I am a beginner developer, but I can advise young people to study those areas that are developing well in other countries, but which have not reached this level in our country. Because sooner or later these technologies will come to us, and when we have them, you will become an irreplaceable expert in this field.