In this post, we take a look at the new Google Maps Augmented Reality (AR) feature. This new feature is available only via “Directions” when a pedestrian route is selected.
AR works by overlaying visual cues on top of live video. It senses your location via GPS and then guides you towards your destination. This cool feature is “invite-only” for Google Guides and other users who sign-up for Beta-Invites.
For our initial test, we selected a very simple route: Confederation Park to Kingston Brewing Company. This 1-block trip takes you SW along Ontario Street and then W onto Clarence Street. Users must accept numerous warnings and liabilities pertaining to local traffic laws and paying attention. As you can see from the video below it is very easy to get lost looking through the lens.
In the video below you can see how the direction markers (Chevrons) are quite obvious. As you get closer to them, the colour begins to shift. Depending on your orientation the colours will try and grab your attention. If you start to deviate the colours go more red to get your attention, then back to Green when you’re on-track.
The question remains, are people willing to utilize AR in their daily lives? While more accessible than Virtual Reality, walking around with your phone in portrait mode could also be an embarrassing “social” hurdle to overcome. Users must also weigh the intense drain on battery life AR causes. Combining live camera, Maps and the geo-location actions needed to execute AR is a tall order. Each of those apps alone is resource-intensive, combine them together and it could be a beast in terms of processing power required. Don’t forget the dangers of removing your attention from local traffic and your surroundings while navigating a busy city.