Instant Visual Odometry Initialization for Mobile AR

30 Jul 2021  ·  Alejo Concha, Michael Burri, Jesús Briales, Christian Forster, Luc Oth ·

Mobile AR applications benefit from fast initialization to display world-locked effects instantly. However, standard visual odometry or SLAM algorithms require motion parallax to initialize (see Figure 1) and, therefore, suffer from delayed initialization. In this paper, we present a 6-DoF monocular visual odometry that initializes instantly and without motion parallax. Our main contribution is a pose estimator that decouples estimating the 5-DoF relative rotation and translation direction from the 1-DoF translation magnitude. While scale is not observable in a monocular vision-only setting, it is still paramount to estimate a consistent scale over the whole trajectory (even if not physically accurate) to avoid AR effects moving erroneously along depth. In our approach, we leverage the fact that depth errors are not perceivable to the user during rotation-only motion. However, as the user starts translating the device, depth becomes perceivable and so does the capability to estimate consistent scale. Our proposed algorithm naturally transitions between these two modes. We perform extensive validations of our contributions with both a publicly available dataset and synthetic data. We show that the proposed pose estimator outperforms the classical approaches for 6-DoF pose estimation used in the literature in low-parallax configurations. We release a dataset for the relative pose problem using real data to facilitate the comparison with future solutions for the relative pose problem. Our solution is either used as a full odometry or as a preSLAM component of any supported SLAM system (ARKit, ARCore) in world-locked AR effects on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

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