Augmented Technologies and the OGC
Augmented Reality (AR) involves overlaying digital information from a database on an image of the real world, which is typically provided by a smart phone's camera. The smart phone's sensors (such as GPS and compass) determine the camera's position and orientation in the world. The AR software then matches this position/orientation data to a location in a street database, for example, to establish what the user is looking at. The digital information can be updated as the user moves about, presenting a seamless digitally "augmented" view of the world.
"We believe that mobile computing and augmented reality are going to be a game changing technology, as much as the Internet has been over the last 15 years. We believe that the way to bring about this change is through open international standards, and content provision that is actually useful to businesses and end consumers, not just delivering the same data through a different interface."
These are the words of Mike Reynolds, owner of Augmented Technologies. Augmented Technologies' stated mission is to develop useful and engaging mobile augmented reality solutions for the business and consumer markets.
As Mike explains, "Our vision is to be a market leader of cross-platform mobile AR browser software, bringing true value to clients and consumers through the effective delivery of content on this emerging technology. To accomplish this, in this early stage of the industry's development, we need to be a thought leader in the field of mobile AR technology. We want to help bring the technology out of its infancy through an intuitive, engaging and standards based approach."
The Augmented Technologies team has developed Awila, a mobile augmented reality browser for use in utilities, construction, design, public sector and consumer markets. Awila is a mobile augmented reality (AR) application for smart-phones, which business can use to display business assets or provide information to mobile consumers. In the figure above, Awila is displaying underground utilities and the location of an ATM.
Awila is the first mobile AR browser to use the OGC's open geospatial standards for delivering existing location based datasets to Android smartphones for exploration and viewing. Awila blends geographic information system (GIS) and 3D scene data from existing systems with GPS and rotation sensors on a phone, via OGC standards, allowing users to "see" network, construction or Point of Interest (POI) data without the need for background mapping or searching for a location.
Awila is designed to display large GIS datasets and 3D scenes from a variety of sources. Using data tiling, localised caching and OGC standard web services, Awila can display local views of infrastructure or underground assets (such as roads, pipes, cables), CAD drawings and cartographic mark-up that span entire countries. This serves both business and consumer users looking for an affordable geodata viewing and query platform.
Augmented Technologies is using the OGC Web Feature Service (WFS) Interface Standard and OGC Geography Markup Language (GML v2.0) Encoding Standard to transfer geospatial data from a web service to the mobile client. They are also working to develop readers that implement ARML2 (an OGC candidate standard) and the OGC KML Standard. Google Earth and other Earth browsers are based on KML.
"OGC standards have enabled us to develop a solution quickly, and to utilize open source software solutions built on the same standards," explained Mike Reynolds. "This ensures that our products can immediately have a broad reach with little or no end-client development required."
In the diagram below, the Content Provider(s) are (currently) services the implement either the WFS standard or the ARML specification.
OGC standards are being used by Augmented Technologies because some of them have been in use within the GIS industry for many years and they have a high adoption rate within both open source and commercial GI applications. Also, the standards are well documented and maintained by the OGC, which makes it easier for Augmented Technologies to promote the software, educate clients and publish new content. The time saving and data-sharing capabilities available through OGC standards are a great benefit to both application developers and clients.
In the future, Augmented Technologies plans to utilize other OGC standards. For example, the Web 3D Service (W3DS) specification (currently an OGC discussion paper) would make it easier for clients to publish data to AR enabled devices without having to re-invent middleware and conversion services.
Augmented Technologies staff are currently participating in the development of the new Augmented Reality Markup Language version 2 (ARML2) standard, which the ARML2 Standards Group hopes will provide quicker, easier and therefore more widespread adoption of AR technology as it will enable clients to publish data in one format to multiple end-user applications.
Learn more about Augmented Technologies at http://www.awila.co.uk.