What is Markerless AR and Examples

31 Ottobre 2022

Markerless AR vs Marker-Based AR 

Markerless AR represents the latest evolution in the field of augmented reality technology. It is currently the most popular system in the industrial sector for image recognition, an AR solution that lets you overlay digital content onto a real scene without using markers. 

This technology does away with the need for prior knowledge of the user’s space and allows objects or 3D content to be inserted and fixed in the environment without using targets. It offers a range of opportunities for anyone who needs real-time data and information in a hybrid environment. 

What is markerless-based AR? 

Early AR technologies were based on markers, an interactive experience activated by a specific image or graphic signal. This process is known as tracking and recognition, a mechanism that allows augmented reality to spread quickly through the use of special headsets or directly from smartphones.  

Markerless AR, on the other hand, works completely independently of any type of signal. In this case, the device scans the environment in which it is located in real time, while the operator is free to add all the digital information they want to. Virtual content can just appear at certain points or when surfaces are touched. 

Customised markerless AR solutions are also possible. For example, these allow you to take measurements and interact with the digital elements, or systems based on superimposition, in which the augmented view of an object replaces the normal one. What all these solutions have in common is the absence of markers, a configuration that makes the AR more versatile and efficient in industrial applications. 

Difference between marker-based and markerless AR 

When comparing marker-based and markerless AR, one key difference needs to be highlighted. AR marker solutions need markers to be scanned and recognised, using databases that can be stored on the device or external servers via cloud technology. 

The final result in this case depends on the image quality of the marker, which must be prepared carefully to ensure an adequate and fluid experience. These technologies do not require special instructions and involve simple and intuitive systems that operators will find easy to use. 

Markerless AR technology, on the other hand, does not need a marker and works only by scanning the environment in which the operating unit is located. Unlike marker AR systems, markerless AR interfaces are more flexible, accurate and professional, without the need for object tracking systems.  

Markerless augmented reality experiences are made possible by the development of more advanced processes, sensors and cameras, with the support of sophisticated algorithms capable of mapping the real world with absolute precision. In practice, the surrounding environment comes to life and becomes a hybrid space in which digital and physical are integrated perfectly. 

Benefits of markerless AR 

Markerless AR promotes virtual interaction by eliminating the marker acquisition process, a solution that brings with it important benefits in industrial AR settings

  • the experience can be shared with other users, for example, between the operator in the field and experts providing working instructions remotely; 
  • the AR content can be developed in a wider visual field, improving the quality and efficiency of augmented reality solutions; 
  • the range of movements possible during markerless augmented reality experiences can be increased, making the field operator more autonomous; 
  • markerless AR  allows you to take advantage of AR technology from various different devices, including those that can be worn by operators thanks to special headsets with integrated cameras and headphones. 

Markerless AR example 

Markerless AR technologies can be applied in any real environment, with the potential for solutions to be used in cases of diagnostics, maintenance, inspection, assembly and plenty more besides. More specifically, markerless augmented reality is the right answer in any context in which unpredictable situations are common, where areas and conditions change constantly and would not be suitable for a marker-based solution. 

For example, you can activate the AR experience with a trigger based on a QR Code. You can activate specific information on a piece of specific industrial machinery, immediately providing the technician with all the information he needs. It is an efficient and relatively simple-to-use solution. Moreover, the QR Code can be easily integrated into any machine point. 

As part of the IoT, it is possible to use markerless AR combined with Digital Twin technology, i.e. the digital reproduction of a physical entity through special sensors, with the possibility of representing in 3D an entire production process or a specific activity. The application of augmented reality to the Digital Twin allows you to view a hologram of the product in the AR viewer, with the perfect overlap between the physical and virtual world, useful in various industrial sectors such as manufacturing, automotive and the pharmaceutical industry for design, the management and control of production plants. 

One example is the new all-in-one Kiber 3 solution, a markerless augmented reality device for industrial use. This technology makes it possible to carry out remote machinery or plant testing, working together remotely to achieve the same performance as direct physical operation, with the potential to reduce costs and working times. 

In the same way, assembly processes can be improved by the provision of instructions to operators remotely; internal training can also be simplified by remote collaboration from experts who guide operators in the field safely and efficiently. Markerless AR technology undoubtedly offers the most significant potential and opportunities in the industrial sector, especially in the most dynamic and complex settings, in which unprecedented and irreplicable scenarios proliferate.  

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