The sun may be shining here in Liverpool today, but we still wish that we were out in California for the Augmented World Expo. This is where the brightest and best start ups, multinationals and genius inventors show off the latest advances in the fast-moving augmented reality sector. Last night the expo hosted the Auggie Awards which honour the best and brightest in this young industry. Among the worthy winners we were pleased to spot a company that we have been keeping an eye on. Qualcomm’s Vuforia is our choice of tools for augmented reality development, so we were chuffed to see it bag an award for the best augmented reality SDK (software development kit).
Vuforia has been our augmented reality development suite of choice from the moment we discovered it. While there were other good systems out there, it was Vuforia that most appealed to us and it is no surprise to see it picking up one of the hand-made ‘Auggies’ at last night’s show.
While there are some other perfectly capable development kits out there, we plumped for Vuforia for a number of reasons. Draw & Code director and arch-augmented advocate John Keefe talked us through the reasons why we went with last night’s winner. “Let’s not beat about the bush; Vuforia was the only dedicated augmented SDK that was free at the time!” John candidly tells me, but there was more to it than just saving pennies.
Although Vuforia is a part of the technology and communications giant Qualcomm, there seems to be a small and thoughtful team at the heart of this project; “Their mission statement won us over. They seem to be about progressing the technology rather than rampant profiteering.”
It is always reassuring to see a more long-term view, but there is more than philosophy that appeals to us; “From a developer’s point-of-view, Vuforia is relatively easy to use. The tools within it are genuinely useful and it integrates very well with Unity 3D, which is our app development kit of choice. Another bonus is the user community that can be perused to find the answers to just about any question about the software.”
So John and our other clever folk are happy with the combination of Vuforia and Unity, which has allowed us to delve a little deeper into our imaginations. We have developed some of our own unique ideas, things that we have not seen in other apps, all without any major hiccups. In fact, it was smooth running from the off, as John tells us, “Within a few hours of using Vuforia we already had working augmented reality, which was quite a buzz.” Draw & Code may be one of the few augmented reality developers in Liverpool, but we are certainly not alone in using Vuforia. There are over 4,000 apps that already use this SDK, including some very slick efforts from big development studios. “Vuforia gives us the scope to do some interesting and innovative work, while offering a relatively easy user experience that most developers will be able to grasp.”
If this kind of powerful and user-friendly technology is freely available today, then goodness knows what the Augmented World Expo will look like in five or ten years from now. For now we are just going to concern ourselves with trying to get over to Santa Clara in 2014…