Vuforia expands uses for AR tech

In the Qualcomm booth at CES 2013, the company is showing some new uses for augmented reality that have great potential for education.

Jason Parker
Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software

Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.

Sceenshot by Qualcomm

LAS VEGAS--Vuforia is Qualcomm's new augmented reality development platform, and some of the early demos I saw at CES 2013 were very impressive.

In one section of the Qualcomm booth an exhibitor held a tablet and pointed it at a famous Leonardo da Vinci painting. The software was able to identify the painting (because it was already in the app's database) and the exhibitor was able to use her finger to "wipe away" the top layer of the painting to show the layers of art painted by da Vinci underneath.

Over the past few years, experts have been perfecting a technology that uses a "multispectral" camera and other techniques to uncover hidden brush strokes in some of the world's most famous paintings. Marrying this technology with augmented reality software has allowed software developers to come up with unique applications like Vuforia that make paintings more interactive than ever before.

While the software is limited by the number of paintings that have already been mapped with the special cameras and other techniques, it's easy to see a future where a classroom of kids could visit a local museum and use tablets to interact with exhibits in ways that would have been impossible in the past.

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