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Daqri deal: Smart + Art

Daqri deal: Smart + Art

by ROB McMANAMY, with press releases | May 14, 2015

If the left side of the brain is truly the source of artistic creativity, the analytical minds behind DAQRI's Smart Helmet now want you to know that they've got that covered, too.

This week, the data-rich, Los Angeles-based makers of the hard hat of the future made a quantum leap into the realm of augmented reality, a market play that the company believes will yield exponential dividends. On May 13, DAQRI announced that it had acquired Seattle-based ARToolworks, an augmented reality (AR) pioneer and creator of ARToolKit, a popular library for AR application development. ARToolworks was founded in 2001 by professors from the University of Washington and the University of Canterbury, many of whom were also active in the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HITLab) in Seattle, with offices in New Zealand and Australia.

“When ARToolKit was released, it inspired a whole generation of AR development," said DAQRI founder and CEO Brian Mullins. "For over 15 years, when people entered the space, ARToolKit was one of the first things they picked up, and it helped them learn what AR was all about.”

To keep that collaborative inclusiveness alive and hopefully to spur even more, DAQRI will make ARToolKit "free and open source" to the entire AR community. 

“We believe that it’s important to have free and open source software at the core of an industry," Mullins explained. "We’re hoping that with this acquisition, and our commitment to developing ARToolKit in the future, we can kick off the next AR revolution and inspire a whole new generation to pick it up and make things that haven’t been imagined yet.”

We’re hoping... we can kick off the next AR revolution and inspire a whole new generation (to) make things that haven’t been imagined yet.
— Brian Mullins, DAQRI

To help that happen, ARToolworks' CEO Ben Vaughan and CTO Philip Lamb will now join DAQRI to lead the newly-created Open Source Division

“My original vision for AR involved a future where this technology was part of our everyday lives, providing a layer of information over everything in the world around us,” said Vaughan. “Now we are on the cusp of that vision becoming a reality. ARToolKit’s existing open source partners created an array of derivative products that helped drive the early growth of the AR industry. With DAQRI, we will be offering the community a host of new features and in-depth support to encourage a second wave of development.”

As of yesterday, DAQRI will make all of the features of ARToolKit’s commercially-licensed Pro version, such as the markerless, natural feature tracking libraries, iOS, Android and Unity versions, available free and open source under a LGPL v.3 License. This includes a commitment to expand ARToolKit, with DAQRI’s state-of-the-art industrial and mobile tracking technologies.

When ARToolworks was started 14 years ago, it distinguished itself as an early advocate in making cutting-edge AR technology available commercially. After creating ARToolKit, it continued to develop AR technology, expanding into a robust slate of customized software. ARToolKit now is one of the most widely used AR tracking libraries, with close to one million downloads to date. It is available on all major operating systems and programming languages. 

This week, CEO Mullins told TechCrunch he viewed the acquisition as “a chance to reignite the idea of open source AR could certainly benefit everything we are doing at DAQRI, and potentially empower a whole new generation of scientists and engineers to innovate throughout the space.”

The leading augmented reality/4D company focused on transforming the future of work, DAQRI works with the world’s most respected companies, delivering innovative hardware and software products that enable creative play, and technologies that support a lifetime of work. DAQRI is headquartered in Los Angeles with a R&D facility in Sunnyvale, CA and a development center in Dublin, Ireland.

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