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Coding / Development

What Is SLAM And Why It’s One Of The Biggest Challenges In Development

Guest writer Paul Matthews briefly discusses Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping.

It’s no secret that Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have become a core element in development, especially after companies like Niantic were able to massively increase their income with Pokèmon GO. What are the current trends when it comes to app development then? What is SLAM and most of all, why is it so appealing for newborn startups and companies who are trying to expand their development horizons? Let’s break it down in a simpler way.

Virtual Reality“Simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) is the computational problem of constructing or updating a map of an unknown environment while simultaneously keeping track of an agent’s location within it.” To rephrase it, what the SLAM application does is basically translate the data gathered from the outside world into a virtual environment. This at the minute is used in apps like Tesla’s Autopilot, where the sensors are able to translate the outside world’s data into the car’s head computer, who then compiles them in a virtual projection of the surroundings, that is used to avoid crashes and better inform the driver about the journey.

Why it’s Important

Given the fact that SLAM can instantly recreate a real projection into a virtual one and vice-versa, this could be a key challenge for future app development and software setups; many mobile app development companies, in fact, decided to invest in VR and AR with a focus on SLAM and Virtual Projections in order to optimise (in the future) the experience a client has with applications like Google Maps, for example, by including a VR-ready environment in which the user is the focus. This is of course very appealing to big names like Google itself, who always admitted the fact that the company wants to be VR and AR friendly.

What’s The Hardware Level, At The Moment?

Technically, pretty high. SLAM is currently fully optimised for games like VR Chat and this confirms the fact that Oculus and Vive are able to solidly use this technology. As said above, Tesla is currently using SLAM protocols for their Autopilot and so is Volvo. It’s pretty clear that the hardware available on the market is already at a great level, what we could expect in the near future will be a fully mobile optimised focus on pieces of software that are relying on SLAM, which is pretty exciting for developers and enthusiasts.

AR Core Technology

Floor AR (which is the most common AR technology used at the moment) is moving towards SLAM, that is no secret. Given the fact that the SLAM algorithm can present the computer better data, with higher level projections is indeed the reason why this technology will overcome the current floor based algorithms, which are simply relying on predetermined pieces (the same approach that QWERTY codes have).

Apple - Augmented Reality/AR At WWDC 18To Conclude

Being able to instantly translate the environment in a virtual, high-quality reproduction is indeed something that will be the core challenge for businesses who want to focus on VR and AR. SLAM will peak its level in the near future, giving us better projections, with better image quality and potentially machine-learning avenues (especially when applied to environmental projections within design and planning). This is an exciting time for VR, especially within this specific area, which will probably be the core focus in app and software development.



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