Qualcomm launches Augmented Reality SDK for Android

Qualcomm has today launched its free Augmented Reality Software Development Kit (SDK) for Android smartphones, opening new avenues for developers to create interactive 3D apps that allow an additional layer of virtual data to be placed over our everyday world.

Qualcomm has been working on an Augumented Reality platform for a while and believes it can offer a better version of the technology than rivals on the market. Most Augmented Reality techniques require the use of GPS and a compass to place the virtual objects on the underlying terrain, but Qualcomm’s approach is “vision-based”, where graphics are placed directly over real world objects, making them look like they are literally there.

Qualcomm first unveiled its Augmented Reality platform at its Uplinq Developer Conference in San Diego, California on July 1 of this year, garnering a lot of interest from toy companies and game developers who see Augmented Reality as the next big thing.

Toy manufacturer Mattel licensed the platform for its Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em game and plans to include Augmented Reality in more of its products. Ogmento, one of the first companies to specialise in Augmented Reality games, has also signed a deal with Qualcomm to use its platform on a number of upcoming titles.

While the big developers will be turning directly to Qualcomm to licence its platform, smaller developers working with Google’s Android operating system will be free to work with the new Software Development Kit to create games and apps that merge the virtual world with the real.

The SDK includes an advanced feature set, which allows augmentation of everyday images, both 2D and 3D. It even allows user interaction with the augmented objects by physically interacting with the real world, opening up a number of possibilities for new gaming experiences.