Baidu Betting Big on Augmented Reality as Mainstream Feature

August 4, 2016 - 2 minutes read

Baidu has announced that they’ll soon be launching DuSee, an augmented reality platform, to join their fleet of mobile services. While Baidu’s image recognition software is known for being somewhat rough around the edges and early previews of DuSee have some rough edges of their own, the fact that a major Chinese company is launching a major AR platform speaks volumes to the potential AR will have in coming years.

Company statements indicate that DuSee will be integrated directly into other Baidu services (including Baidu search). All the use cases aren’t yet clear (example videos show 3-D flowers following objects and other sticker-esque applications) but predictions for where it’ll prove most useful include remote collaboration, design, and ecommerce.

Observing how this integration plays out among day-to-day users will serve as a case study of sorts for Western mobile app developers — Chinese mobile app developers led the way on chat apps, and it’s likely they’ll find a wide market of early adaptors for AR as well. (At least, as a mass-market concept for utilitarian purposes unrelated to Pokemon.)

According to a Baidu spokesperson, “many smartphone AR apps today work by ‘pasting’ a cartoon on top of the camera image, regardless of that image’s contents. The next generation of AR apps will use AI to understand the 3D environment, and create virtual objects that have rich interactions with the user and the real world.”

Achieving this sort of real-time real-world interaction is a major challenge on preexisting mobile tech, but iPhone app developers are looking to Pokemon Go as a “proof of concept” that AR won’t rely soley on VR headsets. For now, however, headsets like the Oculus Rift offer the best immersive experience.

San Francisco iPhone app developers predict that we may see VR/AR split into entertainment/utility categories, with VR at home using a headset used for consuming media while AR on mobile devices or eyepieces enhances creative and work pursuits outside the home. However it plays out, developers have a lot to be excited about.

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