Augmented reality (AR) is undeniably transforming our world, and the Geospatial AR API is at the forefront of this revolution, enabling developers to build more immersive and interactive AR applications than ever before
AR technology needs a dimensional map of a given space to function effectively. Earlier versions of AR like Pokémon Go involved “floating stickers” without environmental interaction. However, more advanced AR applications such as Google’s Live View require AR devices to localize themselves before they can place directional arrows and navigate users correctly. This is where Google’s geolocal AR framework comes in, providing a critical understanding of the environment to enable sophisticated AR use cases
The Geospatial AR API allows developers to build AR apps around Google’s geolocal AR framework, leveraging the work that Google has already done. It democratizes advanced geo-local AR, leading to scale and crowdsourced creativity. Developers can come up with creative use cases for location-relevant AR – from gaming to restaurant discovery
Several use cases are emerging as prime areas of development for geospatial AR. They include ridesharing and micro-mobility, where directional arrows and overlays can highlight where to pick up your scooter or visually distinguish your arriving Uber in a crowded area. Another use case is location-based activations, which provide wayfinding and promotions at venues like music festivals, sports arenas, or airports to enhance customer and attendee experiences. Lastly, the geospatial API can empower gaming and self-expression, enabling AR scavenger hunts or Pokémon Go-like experiences and adding digital depth to real-world waypoints for others to enjoy.
Moreover, the game engines powering popular video games are being increasingly leveraged in geospatial applications. Companies like Epic Games and Unity have developed realistic 3D modeling tools, and we’re witnessing collaborations with geospatial companies like Esri and Cesium. These game engines particularly excel in larger-scale models on city levels, such as Presagis’ 5D – a digital twin platform combining the power of Unreal Engine with GIS platforms like ArcGIS. These improved 3D visualization capabilities, combined with real-world geospatial data, offer valuable insights through realistic simulations within properly scaled visuals, setting the stage for integration with other emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality
As we advance, bringing different datasets together seamlessly is becoming a critical element in maximizing the value of geospatial data. The Port of London Authority’s project to digitize their assets, including shoreline, marine infrastructure, commercial docks, and landmarks, provides a noteworthy example of using software to federate multiple types of datasets for a comprehensive view.
Developers can build AR experiences using the ARCore Extensions and Geospatial Creator in a variety of platforms and languages: Android applications using ARCore with Kotlin, Java, or C in Android Studio, augmenting ARKit capabilities using Objective-C or Swift in XCode, web-based AR experiences powered by WebXR APIs, and even integrating Geospatial Creator in Adobe Aero Geospatial Pre-release and Google’s photorealistic 3D maps
The Geospatial AR API enables developers to effectively prepare their AR experiences by enabling them to choose their 3D engine, set up their AR project, create their AR experience, and test and iterate on the project as needed.
Geospatial Creator is also emerging as a tool for GIS software development, GIS database design, spatial data analysis, and GIS consulting. It enables 2D/3D digital mapping, indoor mapping, web map development, LiDAR data processing and conversion, georectification and georeferencing, vectorization and digitization, and data integration. It also supports data capture and verification, spatial data analysis, cartography and mapping consulting, GIS web & app consulting, floor plans digitalization, indoor navigation, Building Information Model (BIM), data acquisition and digitization, data conversion, data cleansing and quality audit, and geospatial modeling and analysis.
In conclusion, the Geospatial AR API is a game-changer for AR applications, unlocking a myriad of creative and functional use cases. As we move into the future, it’s clear that the intersection of AR and geospatial data will continue to be a significant area of innovation and growth.