News: uSens Introduces Markerless Tracking for Mobile Apps

uSens Introduces Markerless Tracking for Mobile Apps

With mobile developers near and far primed to implement augmented reality into their iOS apps with Apple's ARKit, uSens offers them a new tool for markerless location tracking.

The tracking solutions provider announced today that they have developed an inside-out positional tracking solution for mobile devices with capability for six degrees of freedom (6DOF) based on simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology.

With SLAM, computers visually map an environment based off of algorithms and computations, which can then be leveraged for augmented reality experiences. uSens's SLAM algorithm uses machine learning and computer vision to determine the locations within an environment based on recognized visual landmarks and anchors augmented reality content accordingly.

In a video demo, uSens mobile SLAM orients its location based on their wall-mounted logo and anchors an animated balloon relative to that location. Image by uSens/YouTube

"Positional tracking is required to give objects and experiences real meaning in virtual environments. Computing systems can create color, shape, size, etc., but what's missing in the mix is position. The world is not flat, so as our technology begins to blend the physical and virtual world, it's increasingly important that it interacts with the world in three dimensions," said Dr. Yue Fei, chief technology officer and co-founder of uSens, via news release.

uSens mobile SLAM could find a significant niche within the new mobile AR ecosystem. While ARKit will give developers a method for markerless tracking, it does have its drawbacks, such as the inability to recognize vertical surfaces.

In addition, uSens fills a gap for Android developers by providing functionality their iOS counterparts will enjoy through ARKit. While Google's Tango platform offers a sensor array for positional tracking in addition to their own version of SLAM, by the end of the summer, only two devices will possess the requisite hardware. uSens opens up markerless tracking to a much deeper pool of devices already in the wild.

"We carry around a supercomputer in our pocket at all times — our smartphones — and giving developers the tools to enhance the user experience on hardware we all already possess is key to increasing adoption," said Dr. Fei. "Consumers are excited for the coming wave of AR content and we're focused on building the core interactive technologies for developers so they can create experiences that feel real and immersive, which is what consumers are demanding."

However, uSens will be playing catch-up with Wikitude, who already has their own markerless tracking solution in their latest software developers' kit.

uSens is actively discussing implementation of their SLAM solution with several "consumer-level companies," though they did not disclose their potential partners.

Update: Next Reality reached out to uSens for more information about how developers could use the platform. After the post published, a company spokesperson revealed that an SDK is expected to be available in three months.

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Cover image via uSens/PR Newswire

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