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Mobile Dev Platform Takes Augmented Reality to the Browser

Augmented reality, the technology behind the Pokémon GO craze of a couple years ago, has become one of hottest areas of mobile app development. Now, a two-year-old California startup has taken it to the mobile Web.

That company, 8th Wall, this week announced 8th Wall Web, building upon its app-based development offerings for what it says is a first-of-its-kind Web experience.

As in Pokémon GO and numerous other visual-oriented apps that have sprung up, AR needed to be implemented in a downloaded Android or iOS app, or via Web tech with the aid of a physical visual cue or image marker such as QR codes, the company explained.

8th Wall takes a new approach, using standards-compliant JavaScript and WebGL to optimize the company's Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) engine for mobile browsers.

The technology provides:

  • 6DoF Positional Tracking: Allows the user to explore their space and interact with AR content using only their smartphone camera.
  • Surface Detection: Allows detection of the ground or other flat surfaces such as tables for precise virtual object placement.
  • World Points: Points in the world can be detected and used by an AR experience for visualization.
  • Hit Tests: Enables interaction with points and detected surfaces in a scene.
  • Lighting Estimation: Lighting levels in the user's real world can be used to match lighting in an AR scene.

"We're extending AR from the app marketplace to the Web," the company said in a Sept. 11 blog post. "With 8th Wall Web, immersive AR content that could previously only be experienced by downloading an app can now run directly on any existing Web site. That means that if you have a smartphone with a camera and a Web browser, you've got AR."

The company provided a Jini-based demo of the technology -- which must be viewed on a mobile browser -- here.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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