AR and VR: Super Powers Changing the World




It was the world’s largest augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) event hosted in Santa Clara, Calif. With nearly 5,000 attendees, over 350 speakers, and over 200 exhibitors, the Augmented World Expo (AWE) USA 2017 brought these super powers changing the world, to life. 

Geeking Out in the Playground

Artists, designers, developers, and lovers of these digital spaces gathered to hit the playground and experience killer demos. The lines wrapped around each booth with attendees waiting to get their hands on a Microsoft HoloLens and other hardware alike.

AWE’s Playground provided highly immersive interactions with technology stemming from companies like Microsoft, HADO, UC Davis’ Original AR Sandbox, PuttView’s AR Golf Practice, and Zenka’s AR Art.

Zenka is able to show the world that tech is beautiful. Jenna Carden, an independent artist, created “Art for the Galactic Age” showcasing sculptures and augmented reality prints. With the help of Vuforia and Unity 3D, Carden was able to bring her art to life. A smartphone can transport you to the stars, bring showers of rain, and even birds to flight.

Key Takeaways

Although the excitement and anticipation of AR and VR going mainstream is there, it was well understood that it will be some time before consumers can adopt these technologies. AWE speakers shared that due to cost, AR in the enterprise is first, and the consumer comes later.

"You could not be in a better place to build the next generation of AR services. We couldn't be more excited to help you do it," said Jay Wright, president and general manager, Vuforia.
The industry is also still in its early stages of development. Before going mainstream to the consumer, a lot needs to evolve in the hardware. Often times with new technologies, the software is there, but the hardware needs to catch up.

"Get rid of the wires. It's really cumbersome in industrial settings," said Tony Parisi, global head of AR/VR, Unity.

Converging the Physical and Digital Worlds

AWE’s keynote Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO of PTC, took the stage to share the evolution of this concept. With the help of AR and IoT, the physical and digital worlds are converging.

Heppelmann said, "AR is really the counterpart of IoT and is about taking digital information and putting it into physical context."

He went on to explain that within the last 20 or 30 years, every unique product started with a 3D model. And with recent technologies in the AR space, you can now have a digital twin of that said product.

Heppelmann provided a demonstration of a miniature KTM motorcycle. With the help of a smart phone, AR, and computer-aided-design (CAD), "We can really understand the DNA of that motorcycle."

Within seconds, the smart phone recognized the 3D design of the KTM bike, acting as a digital twin of the motorcycle Heppelmann had left back at PTC headquarters in Needham, Mass. It provided the ability to see digital data like temperature and fuel level over laying the physical product.

"This is the next generation of the web, it's just a 3D web. I think AR is going to rock your world," said Heppelmann.

Watch Jim Heppelmann’s AWE keynote video now available on YouTube.

Chalk it Up

Vuforia is recognized for its award winning SDK. Developers utilize this platform around the globe to build solutions that change the way we work and play.

"There are over 40,000 published apps in app stores that are powered by Vuforia,” said Jay Wright, president and GM, Vuforia.

During AWE, Wright announced Vuforia’s support of Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses and their continuous integration with Unity 3D.

What was most newsworthy from Vuforia was their expansion of remote capability with Project Chalk.

"Project Chalk enables two people in different locations to have interactions as if they were together," said Wright.

This interactive video chat capability uses AR to enable developers, consumers, and businesses to participate in remote troubleshooting.

"You can draw or chalk on top of the object your friend sees. You're able to write on the world," Wright added.

Where did the inspiration come from? Wright signaled a phone call from his mother while on panel at AWE. Trying to trouble shoot technology in the household can be frustrating without visuals. Now explaining how to connect the Ethernet, or assemble a new cable box can be done in minutes.