Using the Camera on iOS

ARToolKit for iOS offers a wide variety of options for control of the cameras on the device, and the stream coming from them.

You can choose between rear (main) and front cameras, on devices which have more than one camera, and additionally, can request different resolution image data from the cameras. Configuration of these options is performed by use of named parameters to the arVideoOpen() function (in the -start method of the ARViewController class). See how to Configuring Video Capture in ARToolKit for more information.

Calibrating Your Camera information holds the lens model needed to get ARToolKit tracking working properly. This is pre-supplied for all current supported iOS device models, including specific calibrations for different focus-distances of the iPhone 4 and 4S rear (main) camera, and front cameras on the iPhone 4 and 4S, iPod touch 4G, iPad 2, and iPad 3. Loading of these camera parameters is simplified by adding support to libARvideo for directly requesting the camera parameter structure. See the iOS release 10 notes and look at the -start method of the ARViewController class for example usage. Additionally, the video stream can be flipped vertically or horizontally.

The best guide to camera usage is to examine the example applications carefully, particularly ARViewController, as it is the class which handles most of the interaction with libARvideo. Additional helpful information can be found in the header files <AR/sys/videoiPhone>, <AR/sys/CameraVideo.h> and <AR/sys/MovieVideo.h>.

Advanced - High-Resolution Image Capture

It is possible to capture a high-resolution image from the camera without closing the live video stream in ARToolKit. The photo that is captured uses the full photo resolution of the camera in use, and the size of this varies from device to device. The photo is always captured in portrait mode (taller than wide). Here are some example sizes:


iPad 3 (rear), iPhone 4 (rear) 1936×2592 pixels iPhone 4s, iPhone 5 (rear) 2448×3264 pixels iPad 2 (rear) 960×720 pixels


The photo capture is initiated by invoking a method on the CameraVideo instance. In ARToolKit for iOS's ARViewController class, the CameraVideo instance is retrieved in the -start method:

    // libARvideo on iPhone uses an underlying class called CameraVideo. Here, we
    // access the instance of this class to get/set some special types of information.
    CameraVideo *cameraVideo = ar2VideoGetNativeVideoInstanceiPhone(gVid->device.iPhone);
    if (!cameraVideo) {
        NSLog(@"Error: Unable to set up AR camera: missing CameraVideo instance.\n");
        [self stop];
        return;
    }
    // The camera will be started by -startRunLoop.
    [cameraVideo setTookPictureDelegate:self];
    [cameraVideo setTookPictureDelegateUserData:NULL];

Before invoking the photo capture method, we must add a delegate method to the same class that receives delegate calls for incoming video frames. The delegate method is an optional member of the \<CameraVideoTookPictureDelegate\> protocol, cameravideoTookPictureHires:userData:jpegData:.

To this delegate method will be vended any user data set with setTookPictureDelegateUserData:, as well as a pointer to an NSData record holding the JPEG file. This file is suitable for writing to disk, or can alternately be saved to the user's photo roll.

    - (void) cameravideoTookPictureHires:(id)sender userData:(void \*)data jpegData:(NSData \*)jpegData
    {
        if (![jpegData writeToFile:jpegPath atomically:NO]) {
            NSLog(@"Error writing captured photo to '%@'\n", jpegPath);
        }
    }

or could be saved to the user's photo library:

    import <AssetsLibrary/AssetsLibrary.h>

    - (void) cameravideoTookPictureHires:(id)sender userData:(void \*)data jpegData:(NSData \*)jpegData
    {
        ALAssetsLibrary *library = [[ALAssetsLibrary alloc] init];
        [library writeImageDataToSavedPhotosAlbum:jpegData metadata:nil completionBlock:^(NSURL *assetURL, NSError *error) {
            if (error) {
                NSLog(@"Error writing captured photo to photo album.\n");
            }
        }];
        [library release];
    }

Finally, the actual CameraVideo method to invoke the capture operation can be called directly:

    [cameraVideo capturePhoto];

or can be registered (under an alternative name) as the receiver of an NSNotification, for example an ARViewTouchNotification vended by ARToolKit's default ARView class:

    // Setup:
    [[NSNotificationCenter defaultCenter] addObserver:cameraVideo selector:@selector(capturePhotoNotification:) name:ARViewTouchNotification object:nil];
    // Removal of observer is required PRIOR to the CameraVideo instance being dealloc'ed:
    // Cleanup (done some time later):
    [[NSNotificationCenter defaultCenter] removeObserver:cameraVideo name:ARViewTouchNotification object:nil];

Notes on Image Capture

  • Photo capture will result in an interruption to video stream capture while the photo is captured and compressed to JPEG.
  • Photo capture may disrupt focus, exposure and white balance of the video stream capture.
  • A shutter sound plays during photo capture. This sound is played by the operating system, and cannot be disabled, although it will be silent if the device is muted.

Last modified: 2016/02/15 05:41 (external edit)

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