SLAM Technology Redrawing AR’s Battle Lines

All sci-fi fans are holding their breath for next wave of fantasy turned reality. But for technology to become self-sufficient reality, it needs a pre-existing map of environment. This raises the “what came first: chicken or egg?” question – knowing your orientation and position is necessary to map an environment which is only gained from pre-existing map of environment.

SLAM: Simultaneous Localization and Mapping

This is where SLAM becomes relevant. Robots or devices use SLAM to simultaneously create a map of environment and orient itself accordingly in real time. SLAM works as an eye for machines to understand the visual input from physical world in shape of points. Leading tech giants are heavily investing in this technology because of its applicability in driverless cars, robotics, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Accuracy is the true challenge of SLAM. For an accurate mapping and localization of environment, measurements must be taken constantly by the machine as it moves through space. It must also consider the “noise” made by the inaccuracy of measurement method and movement of device.

Augmented Reality & SLAM

While primary use of SLAM technology may be in autonomous vehicles, a less obvious implication can be for augmented reality. With the ability to simultaneously localize and map user’s environment, you can recognize the position where user is looking and use it to create an AR overlay. Despite how futuristic it may sound; these features have actually been developed at present.

Currently, a lot of apps use only position tracking and floor recognition to place AR objects around users. With SLAM, a mesh of our environment can be created and can identify not only floors but also walls and objects around you. By using the points of references, augmented reality developers can now create more interactive and realistic user experiences.

Understanding Space

Not long ago technology was a fixed terminal meant for our homes and offices. But today, technology has become mobile and ubiquitous. With continuous miniaturization and integration of technology in our daily life, this trend is sure to keep advancing. This is primarily why SLAM is becoming a hot topic among AR developers. Pretty soon our tech will not only understand space but also figure out how to pilot us through our daily routines.