One of the more exciting advancements in augmented reality has to do with markerless AR. Essentially the technology used to “track” is evolving and becoming more sophisticated thanks in part to clever engineering and increased CPU power. Tracking is a process that an AR system uses to identify shapes in your field of view, such as a face, or a window and overlay digital information that is registered with those shapes. In other words, when the shape moves, the digital information moves with it. Earlier examples of AR have relied on black and white geometric markers, as a mechanism for tracking. You can see an example of this on our website here: www.teamcarney.com/ar
With markerless AR, instead of using a black and white geometric marker, the software is able to recognize natural features, and more complex visual information. Aside from expanding the scope of what can be recognized and in turn augmented, there are increased opportunities to create more natural interactions between digital and physical world elements.
This advance in tracking is helping move AR into increasingly more practical applications especially in areas of maintenance and task trainers. Other areas of potential include tactical applications that can recognize when a scene has changed in front of you, hi-lighting potential threat areas, such as a hidden IED that was not present during the last patrol. It also opens up opportunities for creating immersive scenarios for training that use real-world buildings and locations as a backdrop.
This video shows work that Sony is doing called SmartAR. It is a great demonstration of how the technology is evolving with marker-less AR and interactions between virtual and real world objects.