November 26, 2014

Enabling the Ecosystem: WIKITUDE, Part Two

wikitudeToday, we continue our interview with Martin Lechner of Mobilizy GmbH, makers of the WIKITUDE augmented reality application and engine for Android.

AG: What will the user experience be like when other applications integrate WIKITUDE? Will they know that WIKITUDE is the provider of the AR component?

ML: The strategy of Mobilizy is to let as many developers and users as possible experience the exciting concept of Augmented Reality. We are certain that there will be many applications coming out within the next months using the WIKITUDE API – the user will experience that Augmented Reality views can be added to many applications.

Of course we also want to make sure users recognize that the WIKITUDE technology is used in the application when it is launched on a phone. First of all, the camera screen will only show up if WIKITUDE is installed locally on the user’s phone. This is due to the built-in Android concept how two or more applications (like the custom app and the Wikitude API) can communicate. If WIKITUDE is not present, the user will be asked to download WIKITUDE from the Android Market. Additionally, in every application which makes use of the WIKITUDE API, “WIKITUDE” is displayed unobtrusively in the top right corner. However, the strongest value to WIKITUDE is the recognition value that users get when many applications use the WIKITUDE API.

AG: The press release is a bit vague on whether there will be developer fees to extend WIKITUDE through your API — can you clarify that point?

ML: Basically, the Beta version of the WIKITUDE API is free for everyone to use. After the Beta phase, we are planning to keep the usage of the API free for non-commercial applications and agree on sort of license agreement with business customers.

AG: I am sure you are asked this a lot, but how does WIKITUDE compare to Layar, besides Layar’s current focus on the Netherlands?

ML: The main difference is that WIKITUDE is far more advanced in programming. As far as we know, Layar only uses the GPS feature and the compass to display points of interest. WIKITUDE makes use of the GPS, the compass AND orientation sensors. This is especially important when differences in elevation are present. For example, WIKITUDE shows the summit of mountains where they actually are – usually far above the user’s phone. From what we understand about Layar, the application would display the summit as one altitude, resulting in the mountains being displayed as if they were flat as a pancake. Or, if you use Wikitude on a plane, you will see the points of interest on the ground. If you use Layar, the points of interest will be displayed on the horizon, so not where the real points actually are.  We could be wrong about this, maybe Layar will implement orientation features in the future, we do not know.  Additionally, Layar’s API is not a true API in the sense of having an interface to the application. Developers can’t actually use Layar within their applications, they can only add data layers, i.e. points of interest. We have a similar product called Wikitude.me (also in Beta) where users can add their custom points of interest to WIKITUDE.

AG: Will you be creating any sort of catalog of WIKITUDE-powered applications, so WIKITUDE users know what else they might obtain that can be used with AR?

ML: After the beta phase, we will keep records of all applications using the WIKITUDE API locally on our servers as a first step. Information about the application itself needs to be provided by each developer during the registration process so that we can learn a bit more about how the developers are actually using the WIKITUDE API. In a later stage, we think about officially promoting the best apps in coordination with the developer(s) who create the applications. However, we did not yet plan to have a catalog of all applications utilizing the API.