ATTENTION: This is a web archive! The IMS Group was split up in 2018 and does not exist anymore. Recent work of former members can be found at the VR/AR Group and the Computer Vision Group.

Interactive Media Systems, TU Wien

First Steps Towards Handheld Augmented Reality

By Dieter Schmalstieg and Daniel Wagner


In this paper we describe the first stand-alone Augmented Reality (AR) system with self-tracking running on an unmodified personal digital assistant (PDA) with a commercial camera. The project exploits the ready availability of consumer devices with a minimal need for infrastructure. The application provides the user with a three-dimensional augmented view of the environment. Our system achieves good overlay registration accuracy by using a popular marker-based tracking toolkit (ARToolKit), which runs directly on the PDA. We introduce an optional client/server architecture that is based on wireless networking and is able to dynamically and transparently offload the tracking task in order to provide better performance in select areas. The hardware/software framework is modular and can be easily combined with many elements of an existing AR framework. As a demonstration of the effectiveness, we present a 3D navigation application that guides a user through an unknown building to a chosen location.


D. Schmalstieg, D. Wagner: "First Steps Towards Handheld Augmented Reality"; in: "Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Wearable Computers", IEEE Computer Society Press, 2003, ISBN: 0-7695-2034-0, 127 - 135.


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