Augmented Reality Navigation: Killer Feature for Your Mapping App
All sorts of GPS navigation apps have long been popular with users: tourists, car drivers, businessmen during their trips to new cities, etc. These simple programs are really good at helping you find your way around the unfamiliar terrain and build the route to the desired point. And if you follow our blog, you know that we've already written about this kind of mobile services, and more than once.
However, recently user location systems have been improved through such sought-after technology as augmented reality. And we guess it's time to expand our research and provide you with detailed information on implementing AR solutions for geolocation: in other words, we’d like to describe different kinds of augmented reality GPS apps.
What is an Augmented Reality experience?
Today, AR technology can hardly surprise anyone, it’s being increasingly used as a killer feature in various applications (especially in e-commerce projects). In essence, Augmented Reality is the effect of adding imaginary objects to the real physical world. The most famous and striking example is the Pokémon Go game. Playing it, the user could actually see Pokémons when he looked at his surroundings through the smartphone's camera.
But, of course, Pokemon is by no means the only object able to supplement the world around us. Routing features would also benefit from the use of augmented reality.
So, AR navigation apps and opportunities they provide us with... what is this all about?
In the ordinary, “un-augmented” world, we have to ask passers-by how to get to the destination and listen to their sometimes confusing answers. Of course, maps and geolocation apps partially solve the problem, but not fully. And then AR navigation solutions become our true salvation.
Such programs allow supplementing real-world objects with various tips that appear on the app screen when hovering the device's camera over them. These tips include comments about buildings and routes, information on where the bus is going or where the certain ATM, restaurant or shop is located, etc. Definitely, there are plenty of ideas of mobile programs focused on augmented reality with GPS-based routing.
Though, in order to implement the augmented reality feature, you have to learn how to attach AR to real-world places; also, you need to work with maps as AR objects. And so on! The list of required skills and used technologies is truly great.
Reasons to use AR navigation solutions
Benefits of using augmented reality for routing might seem obvious but we’ll describe them anyway (at least, key ones):
Tourist interest. Using mixed reality, one is able to arrange cool city tours. Say, if monuments or historical buildings come in sight of the person taking advantage of the augmented reality app with a routing feature, the system displays information about the particular cultural site: a brief description, photo and video materials, etc.
Time-saving. Also, applications with augmented reality navigation features help to pave the best possible route to the destination. Moreover, such programs can provide data on traffic jams in a real-time mode (drivers would appreciate it).
Security. The most advanced programs increase driving safety (again, it would be interesting for users at the wheel). To do this, the application must work in conjunction with a special technique that scans the surrounding space and measures the distance to objects within eyeshot (in order to be able to give a timely signal if needed).
Augmented Reality GPS navigation in action, so to say!
Examples of using augmented reality navigation
Augmented reality navigation (Android, iOS) can be used to improve (and make more effective) a variety of solutions, such as:
City navigation. The simplest and most obvious case is when a person finds himself in an unfamiliar area and tries to build the route to the final goal. Such apps based on AR places maps are meeting the needs of both pedestrians and drivers (a user just needs to clarify in advance the trip format: by car, public transport, on foot, etc.).
Shopping and entertainment centers and malls. The client visiting the shopping and entertainment center can orient himself more easily if he has an AR navigation app which suggests to him what and where is located.
Museums, exhibition halls. Today, in order to study the history of the creation of a certain object of art, there is no need to resort to the help of a guide or background material. Modern Android and iPhone augmented reality apps are able to determine the user's position and provide the widest overview of information regarding the object to which he directed his smartphone’s camera.
Industrial facilities and educational institutions. It all goes in a similar way: the augmented reality GPS apps help to better navigate a particular institution, whether it is a factory or a university complex.
Logistics. Augmented reality navigation features would also do you good if you need to improve your logistics: let's say when it comes to visual orientation along a route.
Emergency routing apps. GPS navigation apps are being widely used for unforeseen cases: they warn of a nearby incident or help to make an emergency call if something bad has happened to the user himself (and he is not sure where he is right now). Of course, such emergency programs would greatly benefit from the augmented reality feature.
Advertising. Just imagine: there is an annual sale in a store, and you, as the store owner, want to attract as many customers as possible. Using augmented reality experience, you can achieve the desired goal: users would see the corresponding ad flashing in front of them if they target their smartphone camera at your store (with the active AR navigation app, of course). So, this is a great way to earn money or promote your brand (depending on who you are: an app owner or someone willing to popularize his shop, pharmacy, whatever).
AR navigation apps examples
Well, now let's talk about specific examples of implementing AR and VR solutions in GPS navigation apps for Android and iOS.
Apple and AR navigation solutions
With the release of iOS 11, owners of the newest models of iPhones got access to applications built on ARKit - a toolkit which simplifies the process of working with augmented reality.
Moreover, it is now possible to navigate the area using augmented reality. You need to do the following: first of all, run maps in iOS (11 and higher) and make sure you see the blue dot. Now you have to specify the address, and the application will build the route. Next, you should click "View in AR" to call the locator and the image from the camera.
ARCity is owned by Blippar which decided to simplify urban navigation with the iPhone augmented reality app.
The program uses AR technology and computer vision and offers 3 main modes: augmented reality navigator, augmented maps, and urban visual positioning. ⠀
ARCity's augmented maps (available in more than 300 cities) offer an excellent opportunity to get information about nearby sights and streets. ⠀
The application works in a really simple way: the user gives access to the camera and gets a chance to look around and find the shortest path to the place he needs. The system is able to explore surroundings, choose the best routes, and even guide the user through difficult territories. In addition, the program has a built-in compass and therefore would come in handy during the hike.
One last thing: the application is created using the ARKit tool described above.
Sygic has also added a new augmented reality feature to its high-popular GPS navigation app. And now more than 200 million Sygic users around the world can enjoy AR to improve their road navigation experience.
The new AR feature uses GPS and a smartphone camera. Moreover, to simplify the navigation, a virtual path is being displayed on the preview screen.
Augmented Reality navigation in Yahoo maps
About a year ago, the Japanese office of Yahoo updated its iOS maps by adding the AR mode to them. So today Japanese users can take advantage of the iPhone augmented reality app with real view navigation.
The developers creatively approached the idea of integrating computer graphics into a physical environment and used the excellent tool we’ve described earlier (ARKit).
It looks really cool; see for yourself:
The user leaves traces (or footprints) and sees marks with the indication of the distance. In addition, along the way, he is being entertained by a Kensaku puppy, the talisman of Yahoo! Japan. This AR routing application seems to be one of the cutest augmented reality navigation apps.
The described augmented reality feature works only in Japan (with local maps) but, of course, it's just a start. Undoubtedly, Yahoo will do its best to improve the AR experience throughout the world (and, thus, attract more users to its GPS navigation application).
Google maps & AR navigation
And in conclusion, we’d like to discuss a topic that has recently been on everyone’s lips: Google Maps and augmented reality navigation. The fact is that Google is now actively testing augmented reality for routing needs.
The user location is being usually determined by GPS. Though when dealing with close city development, we cannot be sure that such a method will give an accurate result. To solve this problem, the company decided to take advantage of the camera and implement augmented reality user experience.
The service already knows the approximate coordinates and now define them more exactly by comparing the image with photos from the Street View database. While the user is moving along the route, his Google GPS navigation app displays tips imposed on the real world. These tips look like arrows indicating directions.
To avoid all sorts of collisions and other unpleasant situations, Google warns people that they shouldn't walk the streets without taking their eyes off the screen: shortly after launching the AR mode, a warning appears, and if there is no reaction following, the screen brightness automatically decreases.
The Google Maps team notes that they tried different versions of AR tips. One idea was to add a virtual character (he is also the guide), but there was a danger of users looking at the smartphone all the time (as we've said, the company seeks to avoid such problems). For now, the developers have chosen the arrows as a tips format, but the situation can change.
The new augmented reality feature for Google maps has been tried by The Wall Street Journal columnist named David Pierce. According to him, the AR mode is especially useful when starting navigation, as it allows you to immediately determine the right direction.
By the way, the AR feature had already been announced at the Google I/O 2018 conference. In the near future, it'll be available to members of the Local Experts program. And ordinary users will have to wait and see a little longer (until all the stages of testing are completed).
AR is able to significantly improve the navigation experience, make it better and more efficient. And if you're ready to update your mobile program using augmented reality technology - contact us!
We'll do what seems best in your particular case and create a new AR map app from scratch (if you don't have a GPS navigation application yet).