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An Augmented Reality Chip Might Speed Adoption

If Metaio’s augmented reality chipset can save power in AR apps, smartphone owners could be more inclined to use them.
February 21, 2013

Could your next smartphone come with an augmented reality chip? That’s the hope over at Metaio, a German company that announced its first augmented reality processing unit on Thursday. Metaio, which has previously just made software that developers can use to build AR apps, is working with mobile chip maker ST-Ericsson to include this “AREngine” in new mobile chips.

The move is interesting because it should mean that smartphones including the chips would be able to run augmented reality apps for longer periods of time while consuming less power—a point stressed by Metaio cofounder and chief technology officer Peter Meier In a video introducing the chipset.

“Imagine walking down the street with your AR glasses, where the camera is scanning your surroundings constantly,” he says.

I can imagine it, especially for AR apps that come in handy while traveling, such as city guides that show information about the buildings and monuments you’re passing as you gaze at them through your smartphone’s screen, interactive games, or even devices for the visually impaired (see “Augmented Reality, Wrapped Around Your Finger”).

Augmented reality is already gaining speed (see “Augmented Reality is Finally Getting Real,” “Google Game Could Be Augmented Reality’s First Killer App,” and “We Still Don’t Know What Google Glass Will be Like to Use”). Metaio’s move could popularize it even faster.

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