As Pokemon GO brings augmented reality to the mainstream and Magic Leap prepares to get their long-awaited "mixed reality" tech out the door, it looks like the AR space is finally starting to heat up in a big way. Distinct form virtual reality in a huge number of ways and requiring completely different design considerations and conventions, the field of AR is one that has been a bit on the slow side, but has finally began to pick up steam lately. The latest firm to get in on the fun at the ground level is Baidu. Both lauded and made fun of as "the Google of China", the Chinese tech giant recently held their own conference in Beijing, the Baidu Smart Marketing Solutions Conference, and that's where the big reveal for their new AR system took place.
Dubbed DuSee, the AR platform is meant to work seamlessly to impose virtual data as realistically as possible on the world around the user. Rather than using dedicated hardware like the upcoming Magic Leap or displaying the result on a stationary screen hooked up to a specialized computer a la Xbox 360's Kinect, DuSee will be meant for mass consumption on the common smartphones that can be found in pockets all around China. The service will integrate with a large number of Baidu's own apps, giving users a highly immersive experience with Baidu's product lineup, and hopefully enhancing usability in the process.
At the conference, Baidu showed off a couple of fairly nice demos to show the capabilities of their system. In the video below, an advertising placard is tracked smoothly and has an image reliably overlaid on it. The dynamic image stays where it needs to be and is at the correct angle, despite the user moving the card around a bit. The demonstration did not show exactly where the limits of this behavior may lie, but since one of the goals of the project is to keep things realistic, the limit is likely a bit on the far side, depending on the technology behind it all. Baidu's people also lit up a map of Shanghai, turning it into a 3D representation of the city.