Vuforia announces augmented reality support for Windows 10

AR for enterprise is coming, and PTC-backed Vuforia is hoping to make it cross-platform.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

Vuforia, creator of one of the most widely developed augmented reality platforms for business, will extend support for Windows 10, it just announced.

By opening development to Windows devices, including the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, the company is maneuvering to become the cross-platform standard for consumer and enterprise AR.

Augmented Reality made its public debut in the kitchen and grocery store. Scan a can of Bumble Bee Tuna on your smartphone or tablet with that brand's AR app and a digital projection will teach you to prepare a meal. Scan a bottle of wine with the Vivino app and learn all about its provenance.

Consumer applications are maturing, but a lot of AR so far has felt gimicky and marketing-driven. The real impact of the technology is going to be apparent as more enterprise applications come online, and Vuforia is competing with companies like Aurasma and Augment to be the AR standard for enterprise.

This week, software giant PTC, which recently acquired Vuforia, hosted a gathering called the ThingEvent, a cross between a technology conference and an old-fashioned variety show. The point was to show off the future of AR for enterprise, and some of the demonstrations were striking.

In one segment, reps from motorcycle maker KTM demonstrated how a technician with no special training on KTM bikes could diagnose and learn to repair the Austrian marque's sophisticated machines with the help of a Vuforia-powered AR app loaded on an iPad. By scanning a small icon on the bike, the app could overlay a 3D CAD model onto the physical bike. The technician could pull apart the model and learn about various parts and probable failures before ever picking up a wrench.

Caterpillar, maker of those big yellow construction machines, estimates that 30 percent of its technicians' time is spent looking for information. With an AR application, the company hopes to consolidate repair information into an interactive visual medium, which would cut that time significantly and lead to fewer mistakes. Thanks to distributed IoT sensors inside Caterpillar's equipment, the Vuforia app can help technicians diagnose problems and visualize repairs just by holding up a tablet.

Vuforia has a global ecosystem of 200,000 developers who have built more than 20,000 apps for phones, tablets and a new generation of digital eyewear. Vuforia has been widely used by consumer brands to market and sell their products.

Developers can now use Unity, the leading tool for interactive 3D app development, to build a single cross-platform application that will run on iOS, Android and Windows 10 devices. Additionally, developers will be able to use Microsoft Visual Studio to add AR functionality to their Windows 10 applications.

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