We hosted a guest talk and visit from Ben Vaughan, the Chief Open Source Evangelist of DAQRI Inc, speaking about “Open Source Augmented Reality with ARToolKit since 1999” on March 1. ARToolKit is probably the oldest Open Source SDK project for Augmented Reality, with its origins rooted already in the late 1990ies. Recently acquired by Daqri Inc, the Los Angeles based foundry of industrial AR solutions, ARToolKit is meant to become the foundation layer for AR systems, similar to that of an operating system or the internet. Ben believes that this foundation layer needs to be in the Public Domain: open, verifiable, and modifiable.
By investing in improving ARToolKit and by publishing that work openly, Ben and DAQRI are making a serious commitment to open AR. It’s not entirely altruistic: DAQRI uses ARToolKit in its products, and good AR engineers from the community are good potential recruits for DAQRI’s commercially focused efforts, but those same benefits also accrue to everyone else who participates in the community, and the same ARToolKit code base used and improved by DAQRI is available to everyone else under the same license terms. The presentation discussed how ARToolKit underpinned the past growth of the AR market, the reasons why it has been open sourced, and its future development agenda.