The Augmented Reality (AR) is said to be a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input (sound, video, graphics, etc.)

Can you remember all the hype surrounding the computer interface of Steven Spielberg’s Minority report? This gestural interface is not at all the only AR reference in Sci-Fi movies. Now you may have Iron-Man’s display in mind. But it is not all about fantasy. This movie-like technologies have indeed inspired the development of the real ones.

It’s been quite a long time since the augmented reality is involved in some of the most interesting and innovative projects. This is the case of the now well-known Google glasses or the last sensation Microsoft Holo-Lens. The AR has a wide range of applications that can be revolutionary in many ways.

For instance, Google Tango Project turns out to be very interesting for roboticists. This project is focused on incorporating powerful 3D-mapping technology into mobile devices, making a huge amount of 3D measurements per second, and updating the location and position of a device while it maps a 3D model of the surrounding environment.

This technology is highly related to the mapping features integrated in Robotnik’s platforms.

The mobile robots like the Summit XL or Turtlebot2 are also carrying cameras with depth sensors such as Kinect or Asus Xtion, which allow them to obtain a 3d pointcloud of the environment. This can be done thanks to a ROS interface to depth sensors using the OpenNI standard.

Provided the data, this information can be processed with ROS powered packages and API’s such as RGBD-Slam and Octomap that are able to incrementally build a 3D map.

Another AR application currently used by Robotnik involves the identification of landmarkers or QR-like codes. They offer different information to the robot itself and can be used in order to identify poses of some objects in the environment or to be related with a certain location in the map.

Augmented Reality going into action

Again the ROS community and the proliferation of AR ROS packages like Ar_Track_Alvar or Ar_Pose states the relevance that AR is taking within the last years.

For sure we will see what else AR has to offer to the Robotics community in the coming years.