For the second week of presentations, I would like to review the choice of Amlaan Bhoi, regarding ARKit + CoreLocation Navigation.

This application has been developed by Andrew Hart and integrates traditional GPS navigation with Augmented reality displaying the path directly on the road through the display of your smartphone. Obviously, the application is available only for iPhone because it uses the Apple’s Augmented Reality framework and its proprietary location service framework.

Augmented Reality applied to navigation will surely make life easier for people with bad sense of orientation that need to reach a place in an unknown city because following the directions provided by the application is trivial considering that the path is “printed” on the streets.
Furthermore the integration with point of interests near the user will make the interaction with them easier than with traditional maps. For example, menus from a restaurant or amazing discounts from shops can be visualized with augmented reality right in front of the place without requesting the user to tap them with the risk to lose some useful information.

 

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Example of integration  with shops and places

Obviously, there are also some limits in the usage of this application. Considering that very often navigation systems are used while driving, this application cannot be used in that context because looking at the road through the screen of your phone is probably one of the most dangerous things to do while driving. Anyway, AR can still be used but should be integrated with wearables like glasses that allows the user to be focused on driving while looking at directions. A similar case can happen while walking too, while with regular maps we can hold the iPhone however we want, using this application it is mandatory to frame the road and the user is obliged to hold the phone, in my opinion, in a very uncomfortable way.

While the AR framework is very powerful, and it is in my opinion the best toolkit for smartphones (ARCore by Google is still immature and can’t reach the flexibility and possibilities offered by the Apple’s one) the integration with location service should be improved. An application like AR Navigation requires a greater accuracy than a classic navigation system because looking at a path not corresponding to the actual road can be misleading and annoying for the user. The error given by CoreLocation framework can reach 20 meters in some context making the application unusable. Anyway, any other location framework obtains poorer results compared with the one developed by Apple. For this reason, also changing that framework the situation does not improve, and an upgrade is required in the existing services.

I think that this application is a huge step forward for navigations system but at this state of the art it can be considered more a prototype or an idea than a complete product because of the bad performances of location services and the usage limited to people walking. Maybe Apple will release some sort of glasses to make this kind of applications suitable for a larger range of users.

Furthermore, many other features can be integrated, and information retrieved by locations can be used to enrich the user experience. An idea could be to share the position and the path with your friends to make it easier to regroup knowing exactly where they are going. Moreover this app can be used to help navigation in closed spaces, for example to reach a specific office inside a building or to find the closest exit in case of emergencies.