Enabling the Ecosystem: WIKITUDE, Part One

wikitudeEnabling the Ecosystem is a series of interviews with those people and firms that are helping to build the overall Android ecosystem.

This week’s interview is with Martin Lechner of Mobilizy GmbH, makers of the WIKITUDE augmented reality application and engine for Android.

For those of you unfamiliar with augmented reality, it is the superimposition of computer data on a real-world image in real time. Whether you look through funky goggles or, in the case of WIKITUDE, on your Android device’s screen, you see both the real world and “heads-up display” style information about what you are seeing.

AG: For those readers not familiar with your application, how would you describe WIKITUDE?

ML: WIKITUDE is an augmented reality world browser which supports the visualization of IP based information within the physical world.  In other words, WIKITUDE enables the world to become a platform for information to be displayed in a mixed reality, within a situational context.  WIKITUDE is also a platform for AR development API and a crowdsourced geo-information portal, Wikitude.me.

AG: Your new developer API is designed to allow other people to extend WIKITUDE? How does that work?

Actually, it’s not WIKITUDE which is extended by the API, but any application which uses our API. The concept behind the WIKITUDE API is pretty simple, yet powerful. As an example, take a developer which has already implemented an application displaying geotagged information (points of interest) on a map, and wants to enhance the application by adding an Augmented Reality camera view. Before the WIKITUDE API was available, he would have to reinvent the wheel by creating an AR camera view for their application. Now, anyone can throw in points of interest that are part of any application, connect with the WIKITUDE API and have it displayed through the exciting WIKITUDE camera view. All one needs to do is request the API package from Mobilizy and add the points of interest through the WIKITUDE API interface – that’s all! As a result, any application can be enhanced with WIKITUDE with hardly any effort! Our API is currently in Beta, so any comments or feature requests from developers using the API are very welcome.

AG: Without getting into all of the low-level details, what do developers need to provide to the API? I am assuming it is something along the lines of a Location or GeoPoint, plus descriptive information.

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Correct, the usage of the WIKITUDE API is very straight-forward. Developers need to create a collection of Point of interest-objects (POI-objects) they want to have displayed on the AR camera view. Each POI-object holds the geocoded data indicating the latitude, longitude and altitude of the location, as well as a name and description which is displayed in the bubble. For example, if one wants to have Mobilizy’s main office displayed on the cam view, a point of interest with the the geo-coordinates 47.8228215 (latitude), 13.0407995 (longitude), 419 (altitude in meters) plus name and description are then added to the collection of points of interest.

Additionally, the developer can assign a customized marker (any bitmap image) to each POI and customize some parts of the AR screen.

A more detailed description of the usage of the API comes along with the API package we are sending out those developers interested in using our WIKITUDE API.

Part two of the interview, coming later this week!