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This Navigation App is Banking on Augmented Reality to Take on Competitors

The AR City's navigation is in AR, 3D and not on a 2D map like other standard navigation apps (Google or Apple Maps)
4 min read

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

We all have at least one navigation app on our smartphones that helps us discover a new city and find the best route. Google and other android navigation apps in the market are constantly adding great new features, but there’s still plenty that they can’t do.

Their functions aren’t up to the mark and this automatically shifts their market share to other competitors. One such competitor is Blippar’s AR City navigation and map app that combines Augmented Reality, traditional GPS and Urban Visual Positioning to allow people to navigate and explore over 300 cities in a new way.

What’s really unique about this AR City app is that through computer vision (ie. Urban Visual Positioning System) it can accurately estimate the pose of a user’s phone in a city (ie. its exact location and which direction it is pointing). Hence it has solved the problem of displaying contextual AR at exactly the right place in a city. In the current version of the app, the AR content (places, roads, etc) is sourced from Blippar's knowledge graph and Open Street Map, an open source crowd-sourcing system.

London –based Ambarish Mitra, CEO Blippar, shared with Entrepreneur India how AR City is different from other navigation apps in the market. He also divulged some details on improving navigation experience in India.

Taking On Global Competitors

Mitra emphasized that the AR City’s navigation is in AR, 3D and not on a 2D map like other standard navigation apps (Google or Apple Maps). This differentiates it from most available navigation apps and provides a much more engaging way to get directions, discover content and explore the world around yourself.

“Within the scope of AR, our integration of computer vision, Visual Odometry, and GPS is critical to reducing the existing 16-meter margin of error of GPS. Urban Visual Positioning is more than twice as accurate as GPS in city centers,” he said.

As of now, the company has released a beta version of the product. It gives people a glimpse of the future.

Mitra shared that soon the app will offer more immersive content. For example, you could walk in front of a restaurant and instantly see ratings, menus, and offers or get more info about a certain landmark you walked passed.

Augmented Reality Will Be The Future Of Navigation:

AR City is a first attempt to make computer vision and AR-based maps.

“What we are building can be licensed and integrated into other apps and systems. With AR City we are demonstrating the potential of augmented reality and computer vision to transform the way that we travel and explore cities. These technologies are the future of maps and navigation,” he stressed.

The exploration part of the AR City app works in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Ahmedabad, and Pune. Users can explore these cities through augmented reality and see the names of points of interest (e.g. shops, restaurants, and landmarks) and street names along the way.

Transforming The Navigation And Exploration Experience:

AR City uses Apple Maps to provide navigation routes and Apple Maps does not currently provide this for India, this will be added later. The company is also hoping to launch its Android app in the coming months.

Mitra sees this app as a starting point for transforming the navigation and exploration experience. He believes it will provide a more seamless and immersive way to travel, explore cities and navigate.

The app currently works in over 300 cities and metropolitan areas worldwide — including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Ahmedabad, and Pune. One will need Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connectivity to use the app.

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