SOURCE: Blippar

Blippar

November 07, 2017 04:00 ET

Blippar Launches App Allowing People to Navigate the World with Augmented Reality

AR City app demonstrates the future of navigation, travel, and city life with Augmented Reality Overlays and Urban Visual Positioning

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwired - Nov 7, 2017) - Blippar, the leading augmented reality and computer vision technology company, today announced the launch of its new large scale augmented reality experiment in form of an app: AR City.

The app, currently in beta, harnesses both augmented reality and computer vision to allow users to access information and content as they travel and navigate around cities. This is the latest step in Blippar's mission to catalogue the world and redefine the way people discover, experience and interact with the world around them.

The app will feature three key layers of information:

  • AR basic navigation: a visualisation of walking routes through augmented reality
  • Enhanced map content: overlays of information and content related to user location in AR - for example streets and points of interest.
  • Urban visual positioning: recognition, positioning, and directional information via computer vision, available currently in Central London, San Francisco and Mountain View

AR basic navigation, available everywhere that is supported by Apple Maps, will visualise routes with arrows shown in augmented reality. AR basic navigation uses GPS to estimate the absolute position of the user, and Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) to track their local movement. We smoothly integrate GPS and VIO throughout the entire experience by building on the ARCL library, which uses Apple's ARKit for VIO and Core Location for GPS.

Compared to recent apps using the ARKit, AR City does not require the user manually adding virtual content into the world. Instead, AR City places roads and building at their correct geographical location by leveraging Blippar's technology.

The enhanced map content, currently available in over 300 cities and metropolitan areas across the world, will provide an AR experience within the city environment. Initially it will provide details and information about the surrounding environment on a walking distance scale, including street names, buildings names, and local points of interest with information pulled from the company's own visual knowledge graph. By integrating Blippar's Knowledge Graph, local search, and AR technology, AR City provides users a single and immersive AR experience. In the future, it will expand the content offering and introduce content from third-party partners.

To improve the visual experience, this second level of information uses "occlusions", meaning that we are able to display only points of interest visible from the user point of view, and not, say, those behind a building. Further, we augment existing 2D maps with ground elevation from geological surveys, which enables us to display AR roads and routes with the correct slope.1

In San Francisco, Central London (zone 1 and 2), and Mountain View, Blippar will provide access to its pioneering Urban Visual Positioning (UVP) system. Most AR City features, such as overlaying virtual information onto a physical building, or a virtual route onto a physical street, require more accurate localisation than a typical GPS can provide. Blippar's UVP system, which is an industry-wide breakthrough in location-based AR, provides more accurate positioning than traditional GPS. GPS doesn't give a high enough level of accuracy when looking at the map, often causing confusion. GPS has an average error rate of 16m usually in cities, while Blippar's system provides more than twice its accuracy.

The AR City app is the latest development from Blippar designed to create a fully augmented reality-enabled world, powered by computer vision. The app is still in a beta form but it already shows how this technology could transform a host of markets and industries. For instance, the building blocks that underpin the AR navigation app could be used to deliver immersive city guides and detailed local tourist information. The guidebook industry alone is a market currently worth $90 million, according to industry research group Nielsen.2

Ambarish Mitra, CEO of Blippar, commented: "AR City brings together crucial aspects of Augmented Reality and Computer Vision to transform how we experience our cities as we walk and explore. This technology will eventually replace the current map systems.

"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. What we announced today is an important breakthrough for the industry. The technology is still in its infancy, but its impact will be significant. What we are showing today with the beta version of the app is a glimpse of its potential, and we will continue to develop it, adding further features over the coming months and improving the experience.

"This announcement continues to push the boundaries of augmented reality and computer vision, and opens access to technologies that have the potential to disrupt the fundamental architecture of vast location-based industries. This is an opportunity for other players in the ecosystem to use our technology to take significant leaps forward in travel, autonomous transport, gaming, and many other markets."

The beta version of the app will be available for download on the App Store from November 7th and will function on iPhone 6s and above.3 This technology will be available for licensing in the coming months.

In this beta version, we let users manually adjust their position and heading, in order to improve the AR experience.

About Blippar
Blippar is a leading technology company that specialises in Augmented Reality and Computer Vision, a cutting-edge field within Artificial Intelligence (AI) that trains lenses to recognise and understand the world they see. By harnessing the power of its technology and data, Blippar's mission is to be the bridge that brings the digital and physical worlds together, enhancing everyday life.

Since launching in the UK in 2011, Blippar's technology has been used by world-leading brands such as PepsiCo, Porsche, Nestlé, L'Oréal, GSK, General Mills and Procter & Gamble to create exciting and award-winning experiences which deepen consumer engagement.

With a focus on its two core technologies, augmented reality and computer vision, Blippar has created a range of products that can be harnessed across a wide range of sectors. Blippar has been named on the CNBC Disruptor 50 list for three years running, most recently earlier this year. To learn more, visit https://blippar.com and download the app which showcases the technology on get.blippar.com (Available on iOS and Android).

1 Elevation is currently available in whole United States, Blippar will continuously be adding more regions.
2 Source: Nielsen BookScan 2017 Travel Publishing Yearbook
3 AR City requires ARKit compatibility, so it only works on iPhone 6s or above

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