Monday February 11, 2019

Google Maps Augmented Reality Creates Navigation by Using Real World Landmarks

Wall Street Journal reporter David Pierce was privy to a new form of pedestrian only, augmented reality (AR) navigation that is coming to Google Maps in the future. In the video below, Mr. Pierce takes his phone's camera and uses it to capture images of landmarks around him such as signs, shops, etc. Google then searches through its decade of Street View data to find where he is located. From there he tells the system where he wants to go and large blinking arrows are superimposed over the video feed from the camera on his phone to assist him. Even though the system is similar to the technology that self-driving cars use, it is not meant for driving. And it constantly warns the user to put the phone down as a person could be injured staring at a screen instead of paying attention to their surroundings. Google says it is perfect for those moments when you get out of a taxi cab or off the subway and need to understand exactly where you are.

Someday, when we start buying AR glasses, persistent AR directions might make a lot of sense. And directions aren't the sole point either. AR maps could help you learn more about everything you pass. Tory Smith, product strategy lead for autonomous vehicles at Mapbox, a navigation startup, envisions a possible future in which your windshield could display the nearest parking garage, then tell you how many spots are open, how much it costs and whether there's a good coffee shop nearby. You might someday navigate indoors--where GPS doesn't work--using AR maps, with Google Translate instantly turning every sign you pass into your own language.

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