An argument against cross-platform development: Lessons from an augmented reality app prototype for rural emergency responders

Bryan Weichelt, Tomi Heimonen, Matthew Pilz, Aaron Yoder, Casper Bendixsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Mobile augmented reality (MAR) apps offer potential support for emergency responders in rural areas. Objective: In this report, we described lessons learned from the development process of augmented reality (AR) Farm Mapping to Assist, Protect and Prepare Emergency Responders (MAPPER), a MAR app that provides emergency responders onsite information about the agricultural operation they enter. Methods: Cross-platform frameworks were used to create AR MAPPER to accommodate budget constraints and overcome issues with markerless MAR technologies. Although the single codebase and Web technologies streamlined development, cross-device hardware limitations impacted location accuracy, lengthened the development cycle, and required regular updates to third-party libraries. Results: A hybrid development approach of using Web-based technologies with native tie-ins for specialized components and enhanced performance cut time and costs. This also led to consistency across multiple platforms and ensured that there is only a single set of source files to modify for Android and iPhone operating systems. Meanwhile, active development was delayed by some major hurdles. Apple and Google both released new versions of their operating systems, and the Wikitude framework issued four major updates, each of which brought with it some important enhancements and also led to some new issues. Conclusions: Developers should consider single platform native development to benefit from platform-specific MAR implementations and to avoid development, testing, and maintenance costs associated with cross-platform implementation. Emergency response organizations may be more likely to utilize a single platform across the devices used by their command staff. This also reduces the benefits of cross-platform development. Furthermore, providing map-based, non-AR cross-platform apps for landowners, farmers, and ranchers would help improve and maintain data quality, which is crucial for the utility and user experience of MAR apps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12207
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Emergency medical services
  • Mhealth
  • Rural health
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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