AR Advancements at Unity Vision Summit 2016

February 18, 2016

Last week, PTC, Vuforia and ThingWorx continued to make their presence known in the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) space with their participation in the 2016 Unity Vision Summit in Los Angeles, California. The team showcased some of the newly announced AR technology, relevant to both consumers and the enterprise at the event’s expo. They also presented two sessions that provided an overview of AR, Vuforia and the relationship with Unity as well as a technical deep dive into how a developer might get started in creating AR experiences using Vuforia’s SDK.

Event attendees were excited by the two demonstrations Vuforia had on display. The first showcased Lego’s use of Vuforia’s new VuMark technology with their Nexo Knights product and game. What is a VuMark? VuMarks enable a reliable AR experience on any “thing” and can be uniquely identified down to the serial number. Think of it as a next generation, AR enabled bar code. VuMarks are highly customizable and give developers the design freedom to seamlessly integrate them into their brands and products. Learn more about VuMarks and apply for early access.

Lego uses VuMarks for their Nexo Knights toys and packaging, in TV shows, catalogs, theme parks and more. Nexo Knights is a free game that is played on a mobile device but in order to get the most out of the game, users must scan as many of the shields (VuMarks) on Lego products to gain powers. It drives more customer engagement with the toy and brand, it encourages collectability and the desire to purchase more toys and it brings the game and toys to life- adding a brand new dimension and experience for the consumer. On the flip side, Lego can have better data about how their consumers are engaging with specific products after they’ve been sold. It’s a great example of how a company can leverage AR to drive revenue and some would argue, to create a new type business model through gamification.

vuforia-lego-nexo-knights

The other demonstration showcased how AR can be used in the enterprise. Using a Vuforia marker and mixed reality technology, event attendees were able to put on a pair of Samsung Gear VR digital eyewear and see an AR and VR representation of a KTM motorcycle, using sourced 3D CAD data from PTC Creo. They could then explode the visualization of that model and get an inside-out view of all the pieces and focus on them individually to identify which part they were. After zooming in on a particular piece, the user could then see exactly where that piece lived within the larger CAD model of the motorcycle.

This demo showcased the opportunity that service technicians and even engineers might have in using AR technology. Imagine being a service technician and knowing exactly where in a product the specific part you needed to access was. Imagine being served up step-by-step instructions on how to service that product. AR unlocks value for the technician, but also value for the organization. Companies could hire less experienced service technicians, in more regions of the world because AR can enable easy to follow instructions without language barriers. Learn more about both of these demos through presentations from ThingEvent.

Other exciting presentations from the show included an amazing presentation from NASA on how they are using AR to advance space exploration on Mars. Pretty soon, we’ll all be able to explore and experience space from the comfort of our homes using mixed reality!

The USC Institute for Creative Technologies shared how they are using immersive AR and VR experiences as clinical care for PTSD and the opportunity to use it as tool for mental health screenings prior to service in the armed forces. Additionally, the following announcements were made:

  • Google is now providing their cardboard design lab app in open source to encourage more AR and VR development.
  • Coming soon, Google is going to have native cardboard VR support built right into Unity.
  • This summer, Lenovo and Google will be releasing the first consumer available phone with Project Tango in it.
  • Valve is now offering Steam VR to Unity at no extra charge.
  • Valve is releasing a rendering plug in for Unity that will improve visual fidelity and performance.
  • Free, unfettered access to Unity Pro for Oculus Rift buyers.
  • Unity unveiled several product updates including the ability for developers to develop in mixed reality for mixed reality apps.

Watch the keynote here:

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And check out the Vision VR/ AR Summit YouTube page for presentations coming soon!

One thing was clear throughout the entire event – AR has a lot of excitement and momentum around it and we are seeing explosive technological advancement.