Area Targets

Area Targets is a Vuforia powered environment tracking feature that enables you to track and augment areas and spaces. By using a 3D scan as an accurate model of the space to create an Area Target Device Database, you can easily deliver augmentations to stationary objects in the scanned environment. This enables creating games, navigation applications, and spatial instructions that are all using the surroundings as interactive elements to be explored. Offices, factory floors, apartments, public spaces, museums, and many more areas are ideal locations for Area Targets.


Area Targets are created from a digital model obtained with one of the supported 3D scanning technologies listed below. The output of the scan process is imported into the Area Target Generator which returns a set of dataset files, meshes, and Unity packages.

Vuforia Area Targets supports scans made with:

  • ARKit enabled devices with inbuilt LiDAR sensors,
  • Matterport™ Pro2 3D camera,
  • NavVis M6 and VLX scanners, and
  • Leica BLK360 and RTC360 scanners.

If you plan to scan a space and you do not have a scanner, follow the recommendations provided on the Best Practices Guide for optimal scanner selection.

Vuforia Creator App

The Vuforia Creator App is available for selected iOS devices with inbuilt LiDAR scanners. The application allows you to scan smaller spaces and generate Area Target Databases directly in the app that also can be tested right after. All that is required, is your Vuforia Developer Credentials to login.

See the Vuforia Creator App article on how to get started.

Vuforia Area Target Capture API

With the Area Target Capture API of the Vuforia Engine SDK you can build apps capturing Area Targets on selected iOS devices with inbuilt LiDAR scanners. In smaller spaces you can capture, generate and use Area Target Databases at runtime, directly in the app. This opens up new ways of augmenting environments by sharing the Area Targets between devices and users visiting the same space.

See the Area Target Capture API article on how to get started.


Matterport™ cameras create scans that are easy to import into the Area Target Generator for creating Area Targets. You need a Matterport™ Pro or higher account and a Matterport™ Pro2 3D Camera or Leica BLK360. Visit the Matterport™ website to purchase or learn more about their capture services.

See our Area Targets from Matterport™ Scans article to get started with preparations, equipment, and scanning process.


Area Targets can be made from high-quality point clouds created with NavVis scanners. With these agile scanners, it is possible to capture sizeable spaces with high efficiency. The devices are often handled by select partners of NavVis. Both NavVis M6 and NavVis VLX are supported, which enable reality capture at speed and scale in even the most complex environments. Post processing the raw scan data can be done in the NavVis IVION software, for cloud installations with the Cloud Processing Add-on. Visit NavVis to learn more.

See the Area Targets from NavVis Scans for more information on how to get started and processing requirements.


Leica Geosystems offers a collection of devices and depth measuring devices that are used widely in various industries. The Leica BLK 360 Imaging Laser Scanner and RTC 360 3D Scanner are capable of capturing medium to large spaces as point clouds at survey grade accuracy. The processing software – Cyclone REGISTER 360 – allows for easy handling and export of the scan as input for the Area Target feature. Visit Leica Geosystems to learn more.

See the Area Targets from Leica Scans to get started with scanning and exporting your scanned spaces.

Supported Platforms and Environments


The Area Target Generator (ATG) let’s you import, edit, and generate Area Target databases from the digital 3D models obtained by scanning. When generating, additional data structures are created as arepresentation of your space for visual authoring, occlusion, and collision simulation. The ATG from the Tools download section of the Vuforia Developer Portal.

ARKit and ARCore supported mobile devices, the HoloLens 2, and the Magic Leap devices are supported by Area Targets. See here for a list of recommended devices.


We recommend to scan spaces in accordance with our Best Practices for Preparing and Scanning an Environment. This document provides you guidance on selecting the best scanning solution for your space and explains general practices to capture the area, set the lighting, and describes the mapping accuracy required. Almost any space can be used to create Area Targets and AR experiences as long as they have sufficient distinctive objects, do not rapidly change over time (i.e. furniture, machine, and other objects are rarely repositioned).

NOTE: Expect that an industry grade 3D-scanners will outperform smaller handheld scanners in detail, quality, and scannable area size. Therefore, we encourage you to consider your use case in detail to choose a scanning technique that best suits your needs before proceeding. 

Creating Area Targets

Using the Vuforia Creator App

The Vuforia Creator app lets you scan, generate, and test Area Targets – all within one application. It also allows you to retrieve the Area Target dataset files and all other authoring assets for the Unity Editor.

Using the Area Target Generator

For all other 3D scanner types, the Area Target Generator (ATG) application can be used to create Area Targets from your scanned data with only a few simple steps. It also has the added benefit of reviewing and editing the scan before database generation. Get the ATG from Vuforia’s Tools download page. Data generated using the Matterport™ service is imported from within the ATG which connects directly to the Matterport™ Cloud to retrieve your scan data.

The ATG processes files in the E57 format according to the ASTM E2807 standard. The E57 file format is a compact, vendor-neutral representation for storing point clouds, images, and metadata produced by 3D imaging systems.

Scans from Leica scanners can be processed directly with the ATG, as the Leica tool-chain can export all required elements into the E57 file.

For scans captured using NavVis scanners, use the NavVis IVION Cloud Processing software to prepare the E57 file.

The ATG creates a set of target dataset files (DAT and XML) for relocalization and files for digital representations of the scanned space for authoring, runtime occlusion, and collision simulation. All these native assets are also packaged as a Unity Asset Package that you can import into a Unity project.

See the Area Target Generator User Guide for a step-by-step guide to install the ATG and further general information. The How to Create Area Targets article shows a guide to generating Area Targets with the ATG.

Developing with Area Targets

To create your application, you can load your Area Targets into the Unity Editor and author 3D augmentations into the 3D model of the scanned space. You can choose to develop the application entirely with the Unity Editor and deploy the application to your device for testing, or you can integrate the Area Target with the augmentation into a native application coded with the Vuforia native developer guidelines. See Using Area Target in Unity for information on how to develop with Area Targets.

The Area Target uses the Area Target Observer and requires the Device Pose Observer to be enabled in your development environment. Additionally, you may combine tracking with an external source input such as GPS or indoor-positioning solutions to further improve localization in the space that you are using. See Area Target API Overview for more information.

Supporting the authoring process in the Unity Editor, we recommend you familiarize with the Simulator Play Mode and the Recording and Playback functionality. Both provide a viable approach to test your Area Target based AR application during development in a desktop environment.

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