With the augmented reality (AR) game Pokemon Go launching in the UK, the technology is becoming increasingly popular in mobile phones and is now making its way into other systems. Bristol-based AR software developer Kudan has teamed up with a Japanese technology specialist called Jig-Saw to embed AR computer vision in standard hardware modules.

“We will license the technology to anyone who wants to buy it”

 

Kudan develops an AR engine that can be used for computer vision applications in drones and the Internet of Things (IoT), but the key is that the technology can use any 2D camera sensor and is platform and camera independent, so it can be easily ported to embedded modules. This is very different from other 3D technology such as Intel’s RealSense cameras.

The KudanCV 3D imaging software

“Our strategy is not to be dependent on anything,” said Tomo Ohno, founder and managing director of Kudan. “We don’t want to do something that’s dependent on iOS or Android.” The AR engine, called KudanCV, does not require specific processor hardware such as graphics processors and can run on a low cost microcontroller running an ARM Cortex-M0+ core, says John Williams, chief technology officer at Kudan. “We are not limited to any particular form of computer vision,” he said.” We handle detection and tracking, 3D depth perception, finding and tracking pre-recognised images with an unlimited number of points.” KudanCV also handles most operations internally without having to go to the operating system or the cloud.

This can be used for applications in autonomous drones or robots such as simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) to provide position data when navigation such as GPS doesn’t work.

This also opens the technology up to ARM-based embedded modules. “Jigsaw is one of our partners in Japan and it’s a data management company for IoT, compressing data and encrypting robust connections between devices,” said Ohno. “They acquired Mobicom in Japan that are an embedded software specialist to create the IoT on a chip.” Mobicom works with companies such as Softbank, Altair Semiconductor and Oki to produce LTE, Wi-Fi and other connected modules for IoT applications.

“Our strategy is to be somewhere in the stack for everything,” he said. “It’s a Jig-Saw business, and we become part of their hardware. We will license the technology to anyone who wants to buy it.”

If you you are interested in seeing more you can watch a demo of the technology at the Kudan website.

Nick Flaherty