Synchronous Data Sharing Using Augmented Reality Enabled Handheld Devices

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Mixed reality technology has become an increasingly preferred method for visualizing multi-dimensional data. With recent advancements in smartphones and tablets, their potential as alternatives to traditional AR headsets, also known as head-mounted displays (HMDs), has emerged and requires evaluation. AR-enabled handheld devices (HHDs), such as smartphones and tablets offer immersive experiences across diverse sectors such as gaming, e-commerce, tourism, and the arts. However, there is a significant research gap in their use for data sharing and collaboration. Existing research indicated that offloading computation-intensive tasks to an external server enhances overall system efficiency and facilitates easier scalability in terms of adding processing power or storage capabilities. In line with this, I proposed an architecture that employs AR-enabled HHDs for synchronous 3D data sharing and collaboration among multiple users using AR visualization. By leveraging the external computation unit, I allowed the HHDs’ resources to be used efficiently, focusing on acquiring user input and visualizing 3D models. The server-client architecture enabled the delegation of data processing, data storage, and data communication to the server. My evaluation included: i) assessing the visual quality of HHDs by varying the scale and placement of the computer-generated 3D visual from the user and ii) evaluating the latency of synchronous data sharing based on proposed architecture. The server and the users with their devices were physically collocated and connected to the same wireless network for all the experiments. Evaluation of visual quality and consistency showed pixelation in the 3D visuals of size 1m x 1m x 1m or larger when viewed from close range of under 50cm from the center of the 3D model. Larger distances of up to 2 meters and varying viewing angles had no effect on the quality. The process of user requesting the data, receiving a response from the server, and sending an acknowledgement to the server on average took less than 60 milliseconds. Time delay between multiple users receiving the shared data on average took 20 milliseconds or less. Both the latencies fall under the accepted time range for real-time systems communications.

Augmented Reality, Synchronous Data Sharing