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© Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash
© Clem Onojeghuo / Unsplash

This App Will Help You Navigate Through a New City Like a Local

Picture of Claire Lancaster
Tech & Entrepreneurship Editor
Updated: 29 November 2017

If you’ve ever started following your phone’s navigation app down the street only to realise you were going in the opposite direction of your destination, you’ve likely done the embarrassing ‘stop and pivot’.

Now, thanks to the AR City app from augmented reality (AR) company Blippar, you can be sure you reach your destination the first time.

With the help of a lifelike 3D visualisation of your surroundings, the AR City app shows you where to walk based on what you can actually see – meaning no more spinning on the spot, trying to work out which way the GPS arrow is pointing.

Unlike current 2D navigation apps, the AR City app offers 3D accuracy and contextual information to help users reach their destinations with ‘double the accuracy of GPS’.

Users can see their walking route as it appears in real life, while digitally overlaid 3D arrows point where to go. Buildings and street names appear overlaid on an image of the real street in front of you, and soon you’ll be able to tap to get more information on points of interests, such as monuments and restaurants, as you walk by.

The process at the core of the app – known as computer vision – relies on a computer’s ability to index and catalogue the world from digital images or videos. The technology has advanced dramatically in recent years, and is key for developments ranging from AR to assistive artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.

‘The technology seamlessly combines the digital with the physical, and is a significant step in our mission to create AR natural enough that users don’t feel any disconnect,’ says Blippar CEO Ambarish Mitra.

While the app’s beta version is available everywhere and supported by Apple Maps on iPhone 6s and above, the enhanced urban-visual positioning and directional information features are only available in Central London, San Francisco and Mountain View, California.

For more on augmented reality, check out the coolest AR projects making the most of Microsoft’s HoloLens.