In AR, it is common to track, map, scan, or overall sense where something is. When you use Snapchat, the X-box Kinect, or QR codes you are interacting with S.L.A.M or tracking technologies.
Both S.L.A.M. and tracking technologies are vital for AR but most people might not be familiar with them, I know I wasn’t. So what exactly are they? S.L.A.M stands for “Simultaneous Localization and Mapping”. This boils down to the computer looks at a space and maps it out to implement digital assets into/ onto it. S.L.A.M. falls into tracking technologies but not all tracking technologies are S.L.A.M. Tracking technologies can absolutely be a computer looking at a space a finding out the relative position of the office chair to the desk. But it could also be scanning for a set object like a barcode or QR code. These technologies work by using a camera to locate objects and build a map. You could use the relative location of the device by using GPS (reading) to help with this map building. However, this doesn’t mean the technology gets it right each and every time. When it comes to tracking, you have to remember it is the real world. You aren’t in a white space anymore. There are variables that could cause your tracking to have an error. An example of this is a measurement error (reading). This is when the space is not calculated correctly, the perception is off, etc. If you have ever tried to use a X-Box Kinect you know the pain of a measurement error. Sometimes the space isn’t clear enough for the tracking technology to map out your movements. That darn couch or family dog gets in the way of your game play. This is an example of a measurement error.
Even though there can be some problems with tracking technology, it is essential for AR currently and in the future. An interesting rabbit hole to dive down is, indoor navigation using GPS and mapping.
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