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January 09, 2013

Qualcomm to Add Text Recognition Technology to Vuforia Platform

By Christopher Mohr, TMCnet Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, Qualcomm (News - Alert) announced that its wholly-owned subsidiaries will add support to the Vuforia platform to provide real-time text recognition for smartphone and tablet cameras.

The release of this technology in the spring will give software developers the ability to build educational applications that interact with physical objects. They’ll also have the ability to leverage the technology to provide another method of data entry.

Sesame Workshop (News - Alert), the not-for-profit entity that produces Sesame Street and other children’s educational television programming, has developed Big Birds Words, the first application to use Vuforia’s text recognition technology.

A video demo on Qualcomm’s website shows how the technology works.

A child launches the app and given a list of items to look for, including a milk container. S/he then recognizes a milk jug on the table and aims a Vuforia-enabled cell phone camera at the label on the jug. In the camera’s viewer window, the technology recognizes the word ‘milk’ and wraps the text in square brackets. The child then takes the picture and gets encouraging feedback from the app.

This method of learning has its advantages; Learning becomes more fun when children can make a game out of the process, retaining the knowledge more easily when they can apply the learning to everyday things they’re familiar with.

The new text recognition technology in Vuforia gives developers the ability to develop apps that can programmatically see or read content from cameras on smartphones or tablets using the iOS or Android (News - Alert) operating systems.

It also allows for augmented reality experiences that engage users, whether they’re reading print media, checking out advertisements, using educational apps or playing games.

Augmented reality technology takes a real-world environment and modifies it with the addition of video, sound or some other medium. A couple of practical examples of its use include an app that shows what a room would look like with new furniture, or mapping graphics superimposed on a live view of a street or landmark.

Vuforia gives apps the ability to recognize different types of images and recognize image content on simple 3D objects such as boxes, as long as there is enough detail.

The software development kit (SDK) also supports user-defined images and frame markers that define areas where images can be placed. Apps can use device or cloud databases that store images to facilitate recognition. Image target databases can be built using the Vuforia Target (News - Alert) Manager, which helps one build and manage target databases.

Vuforia also supports development tools like Eclipse, XCode and Unity.

In its previous release, Vuforia was already a huge step forward, taking software development to an entirely different level from text and two-dimensional-based application development. Just as a steel bridge is not built like a wooden bridge using steel components, smartphone software development is not PC software development applied to a smartphone system; it is a completely different environment.

With the added ability to recognize text and images, technologies like Vuforia make you wonder how soon it will be before talking to a computer is the norm and the technology we embrace today is considered quaint. 

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker

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