Internet of Things and augmented reality technology provider PTC announced that it is working on an application that lets people make ink-like virtual marks on AR images they can view using AR goggles. The Project Chalk technology could be a very important applications in moving augmented reality into mainstream use, said Jay Wright, president of PTC’s Vuforia division, in an interview with GamesBeat.

Wright is unveiling the technology in a talk at the Augmented World Expo, a big AR trade event this week in Santa Clara, California. With Project Chalk, you can wear a variety of AR headsets (or even AR applications in smartphones) and use your fingers to draw on the space that you see before your eyes. Someone else wearing AR goggles can also view what you write.

“Project Chalk is a new form of communication,” Wright said. “It enables remote presence.”

Above: Remote maintenance is a lot easier with Project Chalk.

Image Credit: Vuforia

As an example, an expert on a piece of machinery could remotely mark up a knob that a maintenance technician should turn during a repair session. The markers could be used freely during a video call, in which one person can digitally annotate another’s physical environment. That means that one person can provide guidance to another from a remote location with effectiveness similar to being in the same physical space.

“These are exciting times for augmented reality,” said Wright. “We want to democratize AR, and we have focused more recently on the computer vision problem. We think this is a very important part of the problem.”

Wright said that Project Chalk could enable people of all ages complete unfamiliar or challenging tasks with guidance from friends, family, colleagues, and professionals. For example, busy parents can assist children with homework or projects at home, do-it-yourselfers can get assistance from each other or a local handyman, and families can provide aging members with guidance to overcome everyday challenging tasks.

Above: Project Chalk makes it easier to give someone directions remotely.

Image Credit: Vuforia

Early on, Project Chalk will enable a wide range of mobile workers — from service technicians to sales personnel — to troubleshoot and solve problems with increased ease, speed, and accuracy.

“We see Project Chalk as a fundamentally disruptive form of remote communication that will be well received across multiple sectors and for multiple use cases,” said Eric Abbruzzese, principal analyst at ABI Research, in a statement. “We envision this capability being used beyond the enterprise on everyday devices across platforms.”

Developers will be able to use Project Chalk capabilities in existing Vuforia-powered applications for iOS, Android, and Windows using Vuforia software development kit (SDK). Additionally, Project Chalk will be made available as a standalone application via app stores. The application will support a freemium model with plans for both personal and business use.

Vuforia Project Chalk will be available for developers in Vuforia SDKs, and for consumers and businesses via app stores in fall 2017. Launched in 2011, Vuforia has more than 350,000 developers and partners. More than 40,000 applications are available on the Vuforia platform. Vuforia apps have been installed 425 million times.