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Visual augmented reality elements are amongst the simplest AR elements to integrate into the physical environment. That said, tracking and adjusting for a continually changing user viewpoint, without it becoming obvious that the data is superimposed from VR, is a major undertaking. Combined with the problem of occluding virtual data that physical objects pass in front of, there is enough challenge to keep developers occupied for a long time to come.
Augmented Reality Basics: Magic Symbol
In myth and legend, a magic symbol is a pattern drawn on a physical object which possesses otherworldly powers; able to alter reality by creating protective circles, summon creatures to do the artist's bidding, or alter the structure of reality itself. Perhaps it is poetic that the same concept is now used as the keystone for augmented reality.
AR Development > ARToolKit
ARToolkit (literally Augmented Reality Toolkit) is a library of visual interpretation functions, designed for use with C. It is capable of deciphering a video stream with machine vision, rendering 3D objects, adding them to the scene and outputting the new stream, all in real-time.
AR Development > NyARToolKit
NyARToolKit is a complete port of ARToolkit that was written exclusively in Java. This makes it slower in execution than the original, but completely architecture independent. Like the original, NyARToolKit is a library of functions visual interpretation and integration of VR data into physical environments, including real-time camera vision functionality, 3D rendering of virtual objects, and integrating both into the output stream.
AR Development > FLARToolKit
FLARToolKit stands for FLash-based Augmented Reality Toolkit, and is a port of the Java-based port of ARToolkit, NyARToolKit. The toolkit is compatible with Flash version 10, using Action Script 3, where it executes natively. Thus, unlike most AR visual toolkits, it has a limited capability when real-time rendering is maintained.
AR Development > ARToolWorks (ARToolkit 4.4)
A version of ARToolkit has been released for use with the iPhone. Codenamed ARToolWorks, and based on ARToolkit version 4.4, it is slimmed down to operate on the reduced computing power of an iPhone when compared to a desktop PC.