Allowing a non-human invention to “see” is a big step, but programming them to interpret what they see is a whole new level. This is what Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) is bringing to the field of Augmented Reality (AR).
Visual SLAM makes it easier for devices to receive visual data and navigate environments they have not encountered before. The integration of Visual SLAM technology is making waves in AR to deliver real-time, real-world results. Let’s explore what the new technology of today is offering the AR sector of tomorrow.
Understanding Visual SLAM
Visual SLAM technology empowers devices to find the location of any given object with reference to its surroundings and map the environmental layout with only one RGB camera. It is this geographical understanding to determine whether an area is curved, or sunk, which brings big potential.
This is a big deal for AR applications as it enables the pairing of an RGB camera with an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor to calculate vision and movement at the same time. This sensor, made up of an accelerometer and a gyroscopic monitor, allows things like automobiles and drones to instantly track the world around them and overlay digital elements.
Virtual content reacting intuitively with real objects is the holy grail of AR. Better yet, SLAM helps devices navigate spaces without prior reference points. The potential is resulting in investment – according to a market research report by BIS Research, the Visual SLAM technology market was estimated at $50 million in 2017 and is estimated to reach $8.23 billion by 2027.
Visual Positioning without Beacon or GPS signal
The autonomy offered by Visual SLAM cannot be overstated. Granting robots, autonomous cars, and drones the ability to map any environment ultimately offers fluid overlay of digital components for flawless AR.
Visual SLAM solution overcomes Beacon or GPS limitation by reducing the error range to one RGB cameral level. For example, GPS has an error range of about five metres, but Visual SLAM reduces this range from metres to centimetres. This is no longer a camera, but an artificial eye that can measure a large number of points on external surfaces around it.
Take it to the cloud
Perhaps the most exciting prospect of all of this is that Visual SLAM is developing in tandem with other powerful, flexible and useful applications for the further evolution of AR. Visual SLAM helps the device see, but cloud recognition and deep learning alongside these newfound “eyes” are set to push the technology even further.
Map extension is one such feature. Visual SLAM technology maps reference points in real-time and remembers them. Cloud connection means these points can be integrated with other services, like 2D maps, 3D maps and 360-degree images, to create dense maps that were simply not possible before. In this way, the cloud contributes to a massive, updateable platform.
Furthermore, the artificial brain behind the eyes is ever-improving. AR powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be another step. The combined technologies work together to classify objects in an environment and extract semantic information, thereby enabling an automated AR experience.
Developers are getting to the point where the AR device not only captures the 3D location or position of a chair, but recognizes the object as a chair, and augments accordingly. Localizing the object is Visual SLAM, but understanding the semantics is derived from deep learning AI.
Visual SLAM is the foundation, with deep learning and cloud computing the converging layers to truly take AR to the next level of adoption. Real-time and real-world have been the goals of AR since inception, and today we are closer than ever before to that dream.
Welcome to the metaverse
If the visual component of Visual SLAM empowers the device, the real-time application of AR empowers the user experience. This element of Visual SLAM technology is where the real world and the virtual world come together to offer the true capabilities of modern AR. The combination of AR and Visual SLAM works to integrate global locations – indoor and outdoor – with digital elements to project real-time, real-world results.
Imagine you are walking down the street and pass by a restaurant, hair salon or cinema. By integrating this street with AR, you could simply use your phone or “smart” glasses to view menus, promotions, and general information about the store. Furthermore, the store owner could even place three-dimensional video content in front of their shopfront to advertise their products.
The opportunities for marketing, shopping, entertainment and more are endless. This metaverse is only improving and evolving, and with better performing and portable devices entering the market comes further cultural acceptance and AR popularity. This is the truest form of the technology: It is intuitive, offering a plethora of possibilities for developers and users of tomorrow.