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AR Development > ARToolKit


ARToolkit (literally Augmented Reality Toolkit) is a library of visual interpretation functions, designed for use with C.

This library is purely visual based, and was developed by Dr. Hirokazu Kato of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Washington, US, originally in 1999, but was not able to be used by outsiders before 2003. The reason for this being, in the early years, the toolkit was unbelievably dire, and was part of the research framework working towards developing a feasable augmented reality.

A spin-off company, ARToolworks, Inc, was created to manage the software's further development, which continues to this day.

The toolkit was initially developed as a research project to track the user's viewpoint in physical reality and integrate virtual data at a given location. Early attempts at doing this, frequently failed to take into account any change in position whatsoever. In fact, it was only really once positional markers started being used that practical AR was able to take off. Magic Symbol technology only appeared in 2006, but was swiftly integrated and the toolkit became truly useful for those desiring to develop visually augmented reality.

In the years since, ARToolkit has become the most popular, although not the only integrated development environment, based extensively on Magic Symbol.

Feature List

* A simple framework for creating real-time augmented reality applications
* Multiplatform library (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, SGI)
* Overlays 3D virtual objects on real markers ( based on computer vision algorithm)
* A multi platform video library with:
o multiple input sources (USB, Firewire, capture card) supported
o multiple format (RGB/YUV420P, YUV) supported
o multiple camera tracking supported
o GUI initialising interface
* Fast and cheap 6D marker tracking (real-time planar detection)
* An extensible markers patterns approach (number of markers fct of efficency)
* An easy calibration routine
* Simple graphic library (based on GLUT)
* Fast rendering based on OpenGL
* A 3D VRML support
* Simple and modular API (in C)
* Java and Matlab languages supported with limited functionality
* Complete set of samples and utilities


OpenSource with GPL license for non-commercial usage

Commercial Licenses available

Download Links

OpenSource Downloads



Other Links

Commercial Version: ARToolKit NFT

Commercial Version: ARToolKit Professional

Further Reading

Related Technologies:



Magic Symbol technology

Resource Lists

Resource List: Visual AR Development

Resource List: AR Sensory Development

Staff Comments


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