Augmented reality (AR) for the rest of us is here: San Jose, California-based computer vision startup uSens has developed technology that makes it possible to run augmented reality apps like the ones you’d see on an iPhone X on a cheap $100 Android phone.
The company announced its new AR engine for Android phones at CES in Las Vegas this week, demonstrating the technology with a variety of phones at their booth. Much like Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, uSensAR uses what’s being called simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM).
This essentially makes it possible for the phone to scan a room, place virtual objects in that room and display them in relation to the camera location. When a user goes closer to an object, that object scales in size — just like a real object would.
Apple was first to introduce this kind of mobile AR technology with the release of iOS 11 last fall, and has since made it available to recent-generation iPhones and iPads. Google is doing the same on Android with ARCore, but has thus far restricted the technology to a few high-end devices, like its own Pixel phones.
At the uSens booth, the company demonstrated its own AR technology with a recent-generation Samsung phone, an older LG handset and finally a $100 Android device. All devices were capable of placing a Minion on a table and render it correctly, including shadows. The performance on the budget phone was a little jerky, but still very reasonable.