FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

PTC’s Vuforia Chalk lets FIRST teams collaborate in Augmented Reality

Mar 19, 2018 Written by Brian Wachutka, PTC.



PTC is a proud supporter of FIRST. Teams are likely most familiar with our CAD software Creo, which is available to FIRST Robotics Competition teams along with Creo models of the Kit of Parts and the field of play. In recent years PTC has become a leader in IoT (internet of things) and AR (augmented reality) technologies. As our company has evolved so has our ability to support FIRST teams. One of our most exciting new products is Vuforia, PTC’s computer vision and AR platform.

FIRST Tech Challenge teams have been integrating Vuforia Engine’s visual capabilities into their robots for the past two seasons. The 2016-2017 game, VELOCITY VORTEX presented by Qualcomm, included images mounted on the playing field walls. Robots equipped with Vuforia Engine could calculate their position on the field by analyzing the distance and angle to the images. Teams used this feature to help navigate in autonomous mode. FIRST RELIC RECOVERY presented by Qualcomm, the 2017-2018 game, encoded information within a VuMark (a graphic readable by Vuforia Engine). Teams that could decipher the message were able to strategically place game elements for a higher score.

FIRST POWER UP doesn’t require Vuforia Engine during play, but FIRST Robotics Competition teams can take advantage of another new product - Vuforia Chalk, a ground-breaking communication application that gives users in different locations the ability to share the view and the ability to draw simple annotations into the shared view, as easily as drawing on a chalkboard. It’s a simple but powerful tool for collaboration among team members and mentors, as well as for demo and presentation purposes.

Vuforia Chalk can analyze a 3D environment, identify specific surfaces, and accurately render drawn symbols or notes on those surfaces. The drawings, called Chalk Marks, augment the display on the screens of both users’ devices and remain fixed in their position. As you move through 3D space, walking around a robot chassis for example, Chalk Marks always appear on the surfaces they were drawn, even as those surfaces pass in and out of the camera view.

Imagine the use cases for extending the support of mentors or team members through walls and across great distances! A remote expert can guide a team member through an unfamiliar task. People can watch and make notes on a prototype demo without being in the room. Vuforia Chalk can also be a tool for community outreach by helping provide mentorship to a rookie team or a FIRST team that is located at a different school. You’ll likely find other ways this cutting-edge collaboration tool can help your team.

Vuforia Chalk is free to download from the Vuforia Chalk website. Currently, it requires ARKit-capable iPads or iPhones. Development for use with Android devices is underway. Be sure to check it out and take your collaboration game to the next level!

Sample View of PTC Vuforia Chalk FIRST Robotics Competition
Sample View of PTC Vuforia Chalk FIRST Robotics Competition
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