Augmented reality tech company Vuforia is announcing a new version of its augmented reality platform that enables more seamless integration of AR into real-world environments.

Vuforia 7 can take any given real-world scene and figure out where the ground or flat surfaces like tables are. It can also identify objects with much better accuracy than it did in the past. For instance, it can recognize a particular car model on the street. A developer can trigger an animation to play on top of that car in an augmented reality application. So when you look at a car with your smartphone camera or AR glasses, you may be able to find out details such as specs and price.

Vuforia is one of the leaders of augmented reality, with more than 475 million installs of Vuforia-powered AR apps on iOS and Google Play. Qualcomm incubated Vuforia and sold it to PTC, a $1.3 billion company, for $65 million in October 2015. More than 45,000 AR apps use Vuforia, and another 47,000 are in development.

While Apple and Google are providing their own AR platforms now, Vuforia's pitch is that it makes AR development far easier, and it also enables developers to write a single AR app that will run on the most devices, including Apple and Android devices. Since Vuforia 7 is accessible within the Unity game engine, developers can easily integrate it into their development workflow.

Vuforia Fusion enables better AR experiences across a wide range of devices. It solves the problem of fragmentation in AR-enabling technologies, including cameras, sensors, chipsets, and software frameworks such as ARKit and ARCore. It senses the capabilities of the underlying device and fuses them with Vuforia features, allowing developers to rely on a single Vuforia API for an optimal AR experience. Vuforia Fusion will bring advanced Vuforia features to ARCore and ARKit-enabled devices, in addition to over 100 Android and iOS device models.

Vuforia Engine serves as a kind of "digital eye" inside an app that sees objects and surfaces where AR objects can be placed in a way that makes it seem realistic to a user. In Vuforia 7, the company is introducing Model Targets, a new feature for attaching content to objects that have not been recognizable using existing computer vision technology.
Model Targets recognize objects by shape, in contrast to existing methods that rely on detailed visual designs typically found on print media, product packaging, and many consumer goods. Content can be attached to objects such as automobiles, appliances, and industrial equipment and machinery. Model Targets will enable a new class of AR content that can replace traditional user manuals and technical service instructions.
Separately, Vuforia announced Vuforia Chalk, an augmented reality app that enables people to remotely communicate with each other and then use their fingers to mark something in the smartphone camera image, as if they were marking it up with chalk. The app enables people to train someone how to do something by pointing a smartphone camera at an object and then drawing a circle around what they are talking about.