China’s most popular messaging app WeChat is quietly developing its own framework for augmented reality (AR).
With the release of Apple’s augmented reality toolkit ARKit, it looks like better and more versatile AR experiences are coming to smartphones very soon.
Called QAR, WeChat’s AR framework will be an open platform for third-party developers. It’s not yet known when it will be released and what kind of features will be available. Tencent declined to comment.
WeChat’s artificial intelligence team is working on its own 3D rendering engine so that detailed objects, like a soldier’s boots or armor, look realistic in smartphone-based AR apps. They’re also developing their own simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology, which helps calculate the position of virtual objects relative to their environment. That would enable AR interactions without the need for markers, like a QR code or a special image.
In China, search giant Baidu has developed its own AR framework, which has been used to create AR marketing campaigns for brands like L’Oreal and Lancome. WeChat’s own efforts would speed up the process of adoption in China, potentially giving AR developers – and brands – access to the app’s 963 million active users.
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