A couple of awesome upcoming AR features of Vuforia were announced on Augmented World Expo. One is Project Chalk that allows you to draw AR annotations in 3d space directly on a video-call screen, so that the person you talk to can see them floating in space through their device as if these annotations were attached to their physical environment. According to Vuforia, this is going to be available as an SDK feature as well as a standalone app. Even if it sounds super-cool, there are no live demos available yet, only some flashy conceptual videos. You can check it out here.
Another one is Model Targets, which is realtime detection and tracking of real-life objects based on their 3d models, and for me as an AR developer working with art installations and sculptures this is particularly interesting. With this new feature you don't need to 3d scan anything if you already have a 3d model. This is crucial for large objects that you can't scan with Vuforia's Object Scanner app, which means anything that doesn't fit on an A4 sheet.
Up to this moment in order to use physical objects as targets for augmented reality with Vuforia you would need to not just 3d scan your objects, but to do it specifically with a dedicated mobile app - Vuforia Object Scanner, which for some reason doesn't even give you the 3d model itself but just "memorizes" how the object looks from various angles. Adding to the fun factor is the fact that it's only available for Android (a note on the website even says it's only supported for Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7... didn't check other brands but on my Note 5 it does work). Another limitation is that in order to perform this kinda-sorta 3d scanning you could do so only by putting your object on an A4 sheet with a specific print. This leads to a conclusion that only small objects like toys could be scanned this way and subsequently used as targets. In theory you could try to print on a bigger format, but you would still need to capture the object with the app, and you would also need perfect lighting conditions. I suppose these limitations are in part responsible for the fact physical objects are so rarely used as augmented reality targets.
With Model Targets it looks like you are free to use whatever 3d models you have. The model can be 3d scanned using any existing technology, or created in a 3d modelling software. I guess the important thing here is that the model must look as close as possible to the real object, including colors (or at least values of grey since Vuforia's tracking operates in black&white). This is just a guess, but I can't imagine how it could work otherwise. But in any case this approach seems much more flexible and promising.
This opens possibilities of a whole new set of use-cases for AR. Get ready to have buildings, vehicles, sculptures etc. with augmented reality stuff attached to them! Can't wait.
They still don't give away much information and you need to apply for early access in order to get your hands on it, but the demonstration on this video looks pretty cool. Notice how you have an outline of your 3d model in view and how it nicely aligns itself with the respective physical object. Let's hope it will be as awesome as it looks.