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Mobile augmented reality (AR) has the potential to enable immersive, natural interactions between humans and cyber-physical systems. In particular markerless AR, by not relying on fiducial markers or predefined images, provides great convenience and flexibility for users. However, unwanted virtual object movement frequently occurs in markerless smartphone AR due to inaccurate scene understanding, and resulting errors in device pose tracking. We examine the factors which may affect virtual object stability, design experiments to measure it, and conduct systematic quantitative characterizations across six different user actions and five different smartphone configurations. Our study demonstrates noticeable instances of spatial instability in virtual objects in all but the simplest settings (with position errors of greater than 10cm even on the best-performing smartphones), and underscores the need for further enhancements to pose tracking algorithms for smartphone-based markerless AR.more » « less
Robust pervasive context-aware augmented reality (AR) has the potential to enable a range of applications that support users in reaching their personal and professional goals. In such applications, AR can be used to deliver richer, more immersive, and more timely just in time adaptive interventions (JITAI) than conventional mobile solutions, leading to more effective support of the user. This position paper defines a research agenda centered on improving AR applications' environmental, user, and social context awareness. Specifically, we argue for two key architectural approaches that will allow pushing AR context awareness to the next level: use of wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) devices as additional data streams that complement the data captured by the AR devices, and the development of edge computing-based mechanisms for enriching existing scene understanding and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms. The paper outlines a collection of specific research directions in the development of such architectures and in the design of next-generation environmental, user, and social context awareness algorithms.more » « less
Mobile Augmented Reality (AR) demands realistic rendering of virtual content that seamlessly blends into the physical environment. For this reason, AR headsets and recent smartphones are increasingly equipped with Time-of-Flight (ToF) cameras to acquire depth maps of a scene in real-time. ToF cameras are cheap and fast, however, they suffer from several issues that affect the quality of depth data, ultimately hampering their use for mobile AR. Among them, scale errors of virtual objects - appearing much bigger or smaller than what they should be - are particularly noticeable and unpleasant. This article specifically addresses these challenges by proposing InDepth, a real-time depth inpainting system based on edge computing. InDepth employs a novel deep neural network (DNN) architecture to improve the accuracy of depth maps obtained from ToF cameras. The DNN fills holes and corrects artifacts in the depth maps with high accuracy and eight times lower inference time than the state of the art. An extensive performance evaluation in real settings shows that InDepth reduces the mean absolute error by a factor of four with respect to ARCore DepthLab. Finally, a user study reveals that InDepth is effective in rendering correctly-scaled virtual objects, outperforming DepthLab.more » « less
Mobile Augmented Reality (AR), which overlays digital content on the real-world scenes surrounding a user, is bringing immersive interactive experiences where the real and virtual worlds are tightly coupled. To enable seamless and precise AR experiences, an image recognition system that can accurately recognize the object in the camera view with low system latency is required. However, due to the pervasiveness and severity of image distortions, an effective and robust image recognition solution for “in the wild” mobile AR is still elusive. In this article, we present CollabAR, an edge-assisted system that provides distortion-tolerant image recognition for mobile AR with imperceptible system latency. CollabAR incorporates both distortion-tolerant and collaborative image recognition modules in its design. The former enables distortion-adaptive image recognition to improve the robustness against image distortions, while the latter exploits the spatial-temporal correlation among mobile AR users to improve recognition accuracy. Moreover, as it is difficult to collect a large-scale image distortion dataset, we propose a Cycle-Consistent Generative Adversarial Network-based data augmentation method to synthesize realistic image distortion. Our evaluation demonstrates that CollabAR achieves over 85% recognition accuracy for “in the wild” images with severe distortions, while reducing the end-to-end system latency to as low as 18.2 ms.more » « less