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Introduction to ARToolKit
ARToolKit is a C and C++ language software library that lets programmers easily develop Augmented Reality applications. Augmented Reality (AR) is the overlay of virtual computer graphics images on the real world, and has many potential applications in industrial and academic research.

One of the most difficult parts of developing an Augmented Reality application is precisely calculating the user's viewpoint in real time so that the virtual images are exactly aligned with real world objects. ARToolKit uses computer vision techniques to calculate the real camera position and orientation relative to marked cards, allowing the programmer to overlay virtual objects onto these cards. The fast, precise tracking provided by ARToolKit should enable the rapid development of many new and interesting AR applications.

This guide contains a complete description of the ARToolKit library, how to install it, and how to use its functionality in AR applications. Several simple sample applications are provided with ARToolKit to enable the programmer to get started immediately. ARToolKit includes the tracking libraries and complete source code for these libraries enabling programming to port the code to a variety of platforms or customize it for their own applications.

ARToolKit currently runs on the SGI IRIX, PC Linux, Mac OS X, and PC Windows (95/98/NT/2000/XP) operating systems. The last version of ARToolKit is completly multi-platform.. The functionality of each version of the toolkit is the same, but the performance may vary depending on the different hardware configurations.

The current version of ARToolKit supports both video and optical see-through augmented reality. Video see-through AR is where virtual images are overlaid on live video of the real world. The alternative is optical see-through augmented reality, where computer graphics are overlaid directly on a view of the real world. Optical see-through augmented reality typically requires a see-through head mounted display and has more complicated camera calibration and registration requirements.

Comments and questions about ARToolKit and any bug reports are actively invited. News about new releases of ARToolKit, comments and questions and applications people are working on is broadcast on the ARToolKit mailing list, and there is an active community forum (see community webpage). Bug reports and fixes, patches, and feature requests are also actively sought. These should be posted using the tracker on the ARToolKit SourceForge project pages, linked above.


ARToolKit is made available freely for non-commercial use under the GNU General Public License. Commercial licenses to a professional implementation of ARToolKit are available for users for whom the GPL is not suitable, or who require a higher level of support, or who require customization or other specialist modifictions. Commercial licenses are administered by ARToolworks, Inc., Seattle, WA, USA. Click here for more information on ARToolKit licenses and your usage options.