Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a view of the physical world augmented by computer-generated graphics.  These graphics are designed to aid the viewer by enhancing their overall awareness of the situation.  Overlaid computer-generated graphics can represent various types of situational intelligence, such as map data, geo-coordinates, points of interest, and sensor data.  When placed within a person's viewing reference, these generated graphics augment the viewer and allow them to make better decisions based on both visual information as well as database information broadcast in real-time over the video.  

Since 1995, Rapid Imaging has been producing AR Technology to overlay various geographic and informational data to augment human visual perception.  Below you'll find some of our past projects.  The key to our technology is the ability to overlay various data inputs onto live video in real-time.  We can do this all while maintaining data accuracy and correct geographic context.




Rapid Imaging created Landform®, a synthetic vision software designed for use in the NASA X-38 Remote Cockpit program, in 1995.  This early application of augmented reality proved remote pilots experienced enhanced situational awareness when utilizing geographic overlays on live video.  These overlays provided visual cues highlighting geographic points of interest, giving astronauts enhanced awareness in times of poor video transmission.  In 2003, Rapid Imaging brought this technology to the Army where it was evaluated and eventually selected for full rate production on the TUAV Shadow from 2004-present.  A 2005 Study by the Air Force Research Laboratory concluded Rapid Imaging's proprietary software, SmartCam3D, enhanced situational awareness of UAV Pilots and improved Target Acquisition Time by 100%.  Since then, Rapid Imaging's software has been deployed on all U.S. Army and Marine Tactical UAVS, including Grey Eagle, since 2007.    


Rapid Imaging has worked with a variety of governmental agencies in order to provide enhanced situational awareness to pilots.  In 2007, NASA's Johnson Space Center sponsored Rapid Imaging's development of SmarTopo®, a technology designed to verify the location and size of various obstacles surrounding airports.  The technology was successfully demonstrated on a NASA Research aircraft at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas.  During the 1-hour flight SmarTopo® was used to locate and measure known obstacles near the aerodrome to within 1 percent of the surveyed height.  SmarTopo® would go on to be funded by the Department of Transportation through the FAA and under the management of NASA in order to create more direct, fuel-efficient approach procedures for aerodromes in the United States.  To this day, Rapid Imaging continues to work with various national and local governmental bodies, most recently for an Emergency Management Table-Top Exercise.


SmartCam3D View®

Rapid Imaging has created a unique mobile application called SmartCam3D View®, in an effort to improve situational awareness for Part 107 Remote Pilots.  The SmartCam3D View® application draws on years of research and development and leverages the unique expertise gained over 15+ years developing software for NASA and the military.  The SmartCam3D View® app allows users to capture MISB Video, which is video inlaid with geographic context.  Within each frame, a geocoordinate is inserted, allowing for accurate location-data across every pixel.  Additionally, SmartCam3D View® includes a world-wide license to geographic data, including road names, points of interest, and other geographic information.  With this data, users can experience live-video with augmented reality overlays inserted in real-time.  This allows for heightened situational awareness and a real-time geographic context, providing viewers with enhanced, location-based, intelligence.    


Augmented Reality for Unmanned Systems


Value Proposition

A 2005 Study by the Air Force Research Laboratory concluded Rapid Imaging's proprietary software, SmartCam3D®, enhanced situational awareness of UAV Pilots and improved Target Acquisition Time by 100%.  These findings demonstrate the value associated with real-time augmented reality within live video for remote pilots.  Whether these pilots are military personnel operating large unmanned aircraft, governmental personnel utilizing a variety of manned and unmanned assets, or commercial operators using small unmanned systems, the advantages tied to augmented vision supplemented with various geographic and other data intelligence is clear.  A person viewing AR-enriched video has the ability to instantly understand where the camera is looking.  The information is specific and supports the operator's situational awareness.


Enhanced Performance

Enhanced Mission Performance.

Informed Decisions

Informed Decision-Making.

Rapid Analysis

Quick Assessments.

Efficient Coordination

Efficiency in Coordination.

Operational Safety

Improved Operational Safety.

Situational Awareness

Enhanced Situational Awareness.


Software Utility

Rapid Imaging Software has an extended history in aviation-based intelligence.  However, our Augmented Reality Software has utility across all imaging platforms, not just those in the air.  Our SmartCam3D® Framework can be ported into various imaging platforms, including those that are ground-based, such as Security Cameras and Mobile Devices.  This shows the utility of the software because it can be used for many different applications across various industries.  


SmartCam3D View® App

AR App for Small Drones

SmartCam3D View® is an augmented reality application for small unmanned systems.  Currently, the app is compatible with iOS devices and is designed to be utilized with DJI Drones.  Rapid Imaging is an approved DJI SDK developer and strives to create applications that empower certified Remote Pilots utilizing aerial systems for various governmental and commercial purposes.  Current airframe compatibility includes the Phantom Suite (Phantom 3-4), Inspire 1, and Mavic Pro.  Continue scrolling for more information and to download!

Example Use Cases

Emergency Management

Various Emergency Management Scenarios call for eyes in the air in order to collect aerial intelligence.  This intelligence may be observed by various parties without direct experience within the environment, therefore it is vital to add geographic context and situational awareness using SmartCam3D View®.

Table Top Exercises

Table Top Exercises are all about discussion and may involve emergency responders from various departments, some of who may not be familiar with the geographic layout of the response environment.  Table Top discussions are improved by incorporating overlaid points of interest, entrance points, and other intelligence, all with a geographic context.

Rapid Response

SmartCam3D View® provides live geographic overlays on aerial video.  This provides rapid response teams with immediate geographic awareness, even in areas that may be unfamiliar.  This is due to SmartCam3D View's world-wide database of road names, street names, points of interest, and other pertinent geographic data.


SmartCam3D View® provides both preflight and post-flight geotagging.  The app creates a MISB video file, meaning the entire video is georeferenced, allowing any pixel within the image/video to be populated with a marker based on a GPS Coordinate or reverse geo-located, based on an existing marker. 

Asset Managment

SmartCam3D View® can incorporate GPS-based libraries.  This means data tagged to a location can be displayed within live video as an augmented overlay.  This opens the door for Property Lines, Borders, IOT Sensors, Vehicle Trackers, Personnel Trackers, and the like.

Evidence Collection

SmartCam3D View® provides an effective tool for evidence collection and exhibit preparation.  Aerial video is a powerful tool when documenting a scene.  By incorporating SmartCam3D View®, users can highlight evidence areas, points of interest and the like, all with a geographic context.