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A Milestone Year Ahead in AR


Smartphones are now in 82 percent of U.S. homes according to CTA and are helping to drive the market for mobile augmented reality (AR) apps and tools. With AR, digital information and the real world collide. Unlike virtual reality (VR), AR content is overlaid on the immediate physical environment users see before their eyes, blending digital components (sound, video, graphics or GPS data) with real life, using either special eyeglasses or a smartphone's display and camera. You can see through and around AR content because light comes through at all times and reaches your eyes the same way it normally does.

uSensAR

Apple and Google entered the game last year via their respective announcements for ARKit with the iOS 11-powered iPhone 8, and ARCore, Google’s platform to deliver AR capabilities to Android smartphones. Both ARKit and ARCore are software development kits (SDKs), which include software libraries and tools for developers to build applications that blend digital objects and information with the environment around the user, taking apps beyond the screen and freeing them to interact with the real world in new ways.

The AR category expanded at CES 2018 with a ten percent jump in exhibit space devoted to the Augmented Reality Marketplace.

CES 2018 showed the pump is primed for a milestone year in AR. CTA research predicts that unit shipments of VR/AR headsets and eyewear will grow to 4.9 million units this year (representing a 25 percent increase) and tallying $1.2 billion in revenues (an 18 percent increase). These apps and games are just the beginning of what this new technology can deliver.

New at CES 2018

Vuzix Blade debuted at CES 2018

A more sophisticated, enterprise version of Google Glass called the Vuzix Blade debuted at CES. Vuzix Blade delivers enhanced functionality for hands-free business and consumer mobile applications accessing real-time data, work instructions, photography and HD video recording. Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses weigh less than three ounces and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interfaces. Blade has a larger, brighter display than the original Glass as well as full color, communications with Amazon's voice-enabled digital assistant Alexa, and a built in camera for interactive AR apps.

NVIDIA’s new Drive AI platform focuses on putting AR into vehicles to transform the driving experience. NVIDIA’s SDK, dubbed Drive AR, offers developers a means to allow them to build experiences that tap into computer vision, graphics and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to overlay information about road conditions, points of interest and other real-world locations using interactive in-car displays.

Silicon Valley startup DigiLens introduced its MonoHUD display for consumers. At the Texas Instruments Village at CES 2018, attendees experienced the hands-free communications and control application for motorcycles via a full-faced BMW helmet fitted with a heads-up display, enabling the projection of data directly into the rider’s view. A voice-activated app lets riders access GPS, bike status and answer phone calls and text messages while keeping their eyes on the road. The color MonoHUD AR display features a user field-of-view of 105 degrees, and an AR display field-of-view of 25 degrees diagonal.

uSensAR presented a single camera smartphone AR engine optimized for less expensive Android models to include products beyond the top-tier iPhone, Pixel and Samsung phones targeted by ARKit and ARCore. The uSensAR platform employs computer vision, machine learning and smartphone hardware. uSensAR partnered with Spreadtrum Communications, a semiconductor company, to enable AR camera effects for the native camera app in the Spreadtrum SC9853 chipset. An SDK will be available mid-year.

WayRay's Navion holographic AR navigator

Startup WayRay showed its in-car heads-up display solutions. The Navion holographic AR navigator aftermarket solution fits onto a dashboard to display driving directions, trip details and real-time indicators for pedestrians. Content is projected on the windshield so the driver still sees the road. WayRay is in talks with OEMs including China’s SAIC, Honda and other manufacturers to integrate its technology into windscreens for future vehicles. WayRay also demoed its True AR SDK for developers and announced its AR Developers Contest and Hackathon with a prize fund worth $160,000.

Murray Slovick

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