How to Create Area Targets

Use the Area Target Generator to import, view and edit, and generate Area Targets. Area Targets databases can be generated from 3D scanned spaces and include authoring files that are easy to import into Unity or a native development environment.

Workflow Overview

  1. Capture a space with one of the supported devices from the list on the Area Targets Overview Page.
  2. Create an authoring Space by loading Matterport™ or E57 data into the ATG. The ATG will save a local, optimized representation of the entire scan as a Vuforia .3dt Space file.
  3. Review the Space of your environment and trim it to the desired parts.
  4. Generate the Area Target.
  5. Test the Area Target in the real environment using the Area Target Test App or in Recording Play Mode.
  6. Develop your application by importing the database into your AR project.

Alternatively, smaller Area Target spaces can also be captured, created, and tested with an ARKit enabled device with inbuilt LiDAR via the Vuforia Creator App.

Capture the Space

Vuforia supports handheld scanners with ARKit enabled and inbuilt LiDAR sensors and professional depth scanners.

Use the Vuforia Creator App to scan, create, and test your Area Target, all within one session and application. See the guides on Scanning an Environment and the Vuforia Creator App for information on scanning with a handheld device. 

Other scans generated from the supported professional devices list can be converted into Area Targets with the ATG. Each scanner requires specific preparations and investments and will also vary in their output files from digital meshes to point clouds. Please see the guides for each brand to learn more on getting a scan suitable for import into the ATG.

Create an Area Target

If you haven’t already done so, download the Area Target Generator (ATG) installer for either Windows or macOS from the download section in the Vuforia Developer Portal, and proceed to install the desktop tool. Consult the guide; Area Target Generator User Guide for installation tips and general use.

  1. Login with your Vuforia Developer Credentials.

There are three ways of generating an Area Target with the ATG. Either from a Matterport™ scan, from an E57 data file, or from a previously created 3DT Vuforia Space file.

When importing scan-data into the ATG, an authoring Space is automatically created and saved as a .3dt file in the provided file location. This Space file can be loaded again by clicking 3DT Space and browsing to the saved file location.

Follow the section below that matches the scanning solution available to you.

Create an Area Target from a Matterport™ scan

  1. To import a Space from a Matterport™ scan, click Matterport™.
  2. Next, depending on your ATG settings, enter either your Matterport™ account credentials or your Token ID and Token Secret. Refer to the Scanning Guide for Area Targets using Matterport™  for guidance on the two authentication methods.
Authenticating with API Token pairs (Legacy) Authenticating with OAuth Matterport account credentials

  1. In the new window, fill in the Scanned Space ID and give the Area Target a name.
    • The Scanned Space field is the Matterport™ SpaceID, which is a unique 11-digit ID that is associated with your individual scan.
    • Find the unique ID in the URL of your scan by opening the scanned Space from your Matterport™ account.

  2. Copy the entire URL, or just the SpaceID portion and paste it into the Matterport SpaceID field.

  1. In a new browser window, log in with your Matterport account credentials. By checking the Remember Me, you can skip this step on future imports.

  2. In the next window, Click Authorize to allow access for the ATG to retrieve your models associated with your account.

  3. In the ATG import window, click Browse next to the Matterport SpaceID field. Select a model from the Space list that you wish to download and generate an Area Target from. The SpaceID is automatically added.

    NOTE: If the Space list window does not appear, check that the connection is not interrupted by a VPN or firewall.

  1. Enter a Space name into the Space Name field.

    NOTE: The name should be without spaces and only consist of letters, numbers, underscores _ or dashes -. A maximum of 64 characters is allowed.

  2. Verify that the folder location for saving the Space .3dt file is suitable.
  3. Click Import to download your scanned model from your Matterport™ profile and, after a short time, appear in the ATG. Jump to Edit your Scanned Space for more information.
  4. Click Generate to skip the editing of the space and instead, directly generate the artefacts for the Area Targets.

Create an Area Target from E57 data

Scanners that produce point clouds can be imported as E57 data files. The supported list on the Area Targets home page shows current devices that the ATG can import. See the scanning guides below Scanning an Environment to learn more on getting a space scanned.

  1. If you are using a NavVis scan, the point clouds can be retrieved directly as an E57 file after the raw data processing. See the NavVis User Guide for steps to process and download the E57 scan file from a NavVis scan.  
  2. If the scan is available as an .E57 file and on your local hard drive, launch the ATG and login with your Vuforia Developer credentials.
  3. In the ATG, click E57 Data.
  4. Browse to the E57 file and give your Space a name. Verify also that the save location suits you.


  • Click Import to load the scanned space into the Space Viewer. Depending on the size of the scanned space, it may take a moment to load. During loading, a log-window provides details on the process. Once complete, you can review the Space in the ATG and proceed to edit it.
  • Click Generate to skip the editing of the space and instead, directly generate the artefacts for the Area Targets. Use this option in cases where your scanned space is too large to successfully load in the ATG.

NOTE: Point cloud scans originating from devices not officially supported by Vuforia will likely result in an error message. For information on supported point cloud scans and devices, please see the Area Targets home page.

Edit your Scanned Space

After importing the scan-data a Vuforia Space is created in the ATG. You can review and edit the Space before generating an Area Target from it. In the upper right, you can click Edit to open the Edit Space toolset. Once satisfied, click Generate to generate the Area Target database with all its assets. You can also skip the editing step and proceed directly to generating the Area Target database.

NOTE: Clicking X will cancel and close the Viewer showing your Space. To start-over you can directly load the created 3DT Space file, and don’t have to re-create the Space from the Matterport™ or E57 Data sources again,

Review the Space

In the upper right corner, you can select the 3D projection view with the view-cube.

In the Navigation Space toolset, you can:

  • Toggle between viewing the model as a textured mesh/cloud point or walk-though a panorama representation of the Space.
  • Choose the Control Mode to view the model centered in the window orbiting around it or jump inside the model to experience from a first-person perspective. The first-person view enables the use of the WASD and the cursor-keys to navigate inside the Space.
  • The Ceiling Cutoff masks the ceiling and upper parts of the Space temporarily for better visibility of inside structures during the editing steps in the Viewer. It is controlled with a slider. Any masked parts will still be included in the generation and tracking of the Area Target.
  • Under the More button, there are helpful shortcuts to transition to Overview or Dive-in modes to inspect the Space up close. In addition:
    • Backface Culling can be enabled or disabled. It controls whether to render walls and parts that conceals other parts of the Space.
    • Point Size is to control the display point-size of a point-cloud based scan. Setting the slider to a larger point-size can improve the performance when dealing with large scans.

Edit the Space

The imported Space can be edited and cropped to limit the Area Target generation to only the desired part of the Space.

  1. Click Edit to activate the Edit Space toolset.
  2. Use either the INCLUDE or EXCLUDE lasso tool to crop your Space.
    1. INCLUDE will crop away everything outside the closed lines.
    2. EXCLUDE will crop away the parts marked inside the closed lines.

  3. Undo last clip and Remove all clips will revert and reset cropping performed on the Space.

Area Target Generation

When the Space is reviewed and edited to your liking, click Generate to start generating the Area Target database.

  1. Give your Area Target a name and verify that it’s the desired output location.
  2. Click Create.

  3. A confirmation window with your remaining Area Target generation quota and the output location will show. By clicking Continue, one target count will be subtracted from your quota after the process has completed successfully.

    Re-creating an Area Target from the same model or file counts as a new generation and will be subtracted. For specific quota options associated with any license, refer to the Pricing page. The free Basic plan starts with a quota of 20 Area Targets.

Area Target Generation Process

A log about the processing and generation of the Area Target is shown during the creation process andvisualized with a progress bar. If you wish, you can stop the process by pressing Cancel before it finishes, and without it subtracting from your quota.

  1. Once the process is complete, click OK to return to the Space. You can now undo previous crops with the undo-history and make new edits to generate a new Area Target from the same Space. To conclude the session, click X to close the Space. 

Output Files

The ATG generates a set of files for adding navigation, occlusion, and authoring in the designated folder. The dataset files (.dat and .xml) are used for tracking the Area Target. These assets are also packaged as a .unitypackage to easily import them into Unity. See Using Area Targets in Unity for guidance on importing the database files and developing AR experiences with the generated assets.

Test your Area Target

Verify the quality of the Area Target with the Area Target Test App. Visit the Area Target Test App User Guide for more information on this topic. As an alternative, you can also use the Vuforia Creator App to test targets generated via the ATG.

Develop Using the Area Target

Head to the Area Targets in Unity page to start authoring and developing an AR experience for your Area Target. In Unity, you can also test the Area Target with Recording and Simulator Play mode.

Learn More

Area Target Test App User Guide

Area Targets in Unity

Area Target Generator User Guide

Scanning Guide using Matterport™

Best Practices for Preparing and Scanning an Environment

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