Chinese internet search provider Baidu has been busy. The company frequently referred to as 'China's Google' has announced the establishment of a lab dedicated to AR (Augmented Reality), as well as its mapping service being rolled out in more than 150 countries by Here.
The web services company’s new lab, a spin-off from its Institute of Deep Learning, intends to explore AR applications powered by AI technologies like computer vision and deep learning.
"AR allows us to synthesise the virtual world with the real world, and will transform how all of us perceive our surroundings," said Zhongqin Wu, head of Baidu's new AR lab. "We've already seen rapid growth in AR marketing, and expect other industries to follow."
As part of the introduction of technology from the AR lab, passengers riding on Beijing’s subway line two will be able to use their smartphones to view 3D simulations of nine historical city gates of Beijing. Each gate is said to have its own unique visual elements. The AR experience can be activated using the camera function within the Mobile Baidu app.
Baidu and Here
In addition to these developments, Here – the mapping company formerly part of Nokia, now owned by the German consortium of Audi, BMW and Daimler – has announced that it will support Baidu’s mapping service across the world.
The pair first partnered in 2014 to supply maps for Baidu’s desktop and mobile map services to locals outside of China.
In a post on Here’s blog, Jamie Stevenson said: “Baidu, which provides mapping services for the huge population of Chinese outbound tourists, has more than 350m active users globally and aims to accommodate the continued surge in travelling Chinese people by leveraging the location assets and local expertise of Here.
“While Chinese outbound tourism is still mainly focused in Asia (South Korea and Taiwan top the list) there has been an increase in visitors to Europe, with France, Italy and Germany among the most visited European countries.”