Augmented Reality Content: What is and How to?

Mediated reality is the term to describe the ability to add or subtract information in order to manipulate human’s perception of the world. Virtual Reality (VR) is one subcategory in mediated reality which is now getting popular in entertainment related contents like video games and movies. There exists a sibling of VR, another subcategory of mediated reality. Unlike VR that ‘brings’ human into the virtual world, this sibling ‘brings’ objects of the virtual world to human’s side. Meet the Augmented Reality.
Augmented Reality (AR) enables human to see real objects with some computer generated information overlaying on it. While VR is growing in the entertainment sector, AR is more popular in professional or industrial-related technology, such as the Head-Up Display (HUD) for pilots, building visualization for architects, anatomy visualization for medical students or surgeons, product visualization for commercial purpose, or sports scoreboard display on the television.
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The idea of AR is to blend computer generated imagery in human perspective of the world. The popular approach in delivering the idea is by making people view some objects through a computer screen that generates some additional images. Some Augmented reality contents also add sound or smell to enhance the virtual objects perception.
Producing an AR content involves many complex mathematical calculations, computer vision concepts, and computer graphic projections. Fortunately, some Augmented Reality SDKs (Software Development Kit) are available to enable straightforward development. An example of the leading ones is Vuforia. By using Vuforia integration with Unity, an AR content can be made swiftly under 30 minutes even for those with minimum computer science or engineering background.
Vuforia is using marker-based approach. This approach captures image from a camera and detects any specific mark. It may be an image, object, or the Vuforia’s copyrighted VUMark. The location or type of the mark will determine how the information is generated on the screen. The process of detecting marks and projecting imagery are done by the SDK. Developers only need to control which mark to use, what information to display, and how the information reacts.
Despite being easy to use, Vuforia possesses some advanced AR features such as extended tracking, Smart Terrain, simultaneous tracking, object recognition, and advanced camera API. The AR contents can be ported into personal computers and hand-held devices in popular systems: Android, Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and iOS system. It can also be in some head-mounted devices: Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens, and Google Cardboard. The implementation of the SDK is integrated with some popular development tools such as Unity, Android Studio, XCode, and Adobe Illustrator (for VUMark creation). In addition to an official website that provides adequate guides and documentations for every feature, Vuforia is suitable for many developers in various backgrounds and needs.
AR technology contents is growing and we can expect to see faster growth because many industries start requesting for it and convenient SDKs are emerging. Vuforia is one example of the popular SDKs. It is excellent for both newbie trying their first AR content and experienced developers working on serious AR projects. So, start developing an AR content and feel sci-fi-like technologies!
To start developing, simply go to the Vuforia website and create an account. Choose which you need: for Unity, Android, UWP, etc. For beginner, it is highly recommended to use the Unity SDK since developing AR in Unity can be done by some simple drag-and-drops. Of course downloading Unity is a must too. Numerous documentations, guides, FAQs, and forum discussions are available for learning. Development is free; however, to enable commercial and enterprise supports, there are some paid plans to be processed.

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