Augmented Reality tutorial for Android pt 1

Augmented Reality, while it’s been around for many years, is grabbing the headlines at the moment, particularly due to the launch of the Google Glass project. In fact the earliest AR applications were probably Head-Up Displays in fighter plane cockpits. In fact as early as 1994, William Gibson wrote Virtual Light which features something awfully like the Google Glasses.

Anyway, this is such an interesting and entertaining field and so ripe for exploration that I thought I’d throw together a tutorial on how to get started developing A

R applications on android devices, partly to learn a thing or too myself (in anticipation of the day that Google Glass dev kits are available to people outside of the State) and partly to inspire others to do some cool stuff.

OPenCV logo

I’m going to be building this tutorial using OpenCV for Android. Mostly because I’m already familiar with OpenCV so the learning curve wont be quite as steep but also because it’s a free opensource library with plenty of contributors and a lot of support if you (or I!) run into trouble. The device I’m using is the Nexus 7, principally because it’s so cheap and cheerful. The code should run on any device with a camera but I’ll leave it to you guys to test that.

In addition to your primary development environment you will need to get hold of OpenCV for Android. This library uses native C/C++ OpenCV code for performance and to make it easier for existing OpenCV developers to get started. Don;t worry though, you can still write your apps in Java as we will do here, it’s just that you’ll need to do some specific setup in your dev environment to support OpenCV. I use Eclipse and the ADT as my development platform so if you have an alternative toolkit you will need to adjust the following setup instructions to suit your toolkit.What you will need


The NDK is a toolset that allows you to implement parts of your app using native-code languages such as C and C++. You will need to install this before you can start using OpenCV. Full directions are available here.


OpenCV (Open Source Computer Vision Library) is an open source computer vision andmachine learning software library. It’s written in C and C++ but is also available with an Android/Java wrapper which is what we are going to use. You can get OpenCV for Android, along with installation instructions here.

Once you have these two components installed you’re ready to start coding.


2 thoughts on “Augmented Reality tutorial for Android pt 1

  1. Pingback: Augmented Reality Tutorial Pt2. The Camera Preview | Ministry Of Touch

  2. OpenCV user

    Interesting stuff. Do we know that OpenCV will be able to run on GLASS? I think GLASS runs Android, but not sure if programmers are going to have direct access to it, or if we have to use the Mirror (cloud) API?


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