Published on August 18th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Is AR Navigation Coming Next from Apple?
The world around us is becoming more and more populated… with information. There is already a wealth of content being contextually and geographically placed in locations everywhere and it will only keep growing. Recently at AR Insider, Mike Boland ran an article about Apple’s growing presence in the AR navigation space. This makes perfect sense as Apple has the infrastructure to build a global geolocation network of information. These capabilities result in an unlimited number of use cases as providers can launch any kind of information based on your surroundings. Whether on your smart phone screen or in your smart glasses FOV, the world is becoming our encyclopedia, our map, our entertainment and networking platform.
One area of AR we continue to bet on is 3D navigation. Sort of a cousin of classic forms of AR that get more airtime, we’re talking about using your smartphone to scan your surroundings, localize itself, then overlay relevant graphics such as directions or storefront information.
Several tech giants are working towards different flavors of this vision. Snapchat is rolling out ways to leave location-anchored graphics for friends to discover. As we examined recently, this could be a step towards more practical and commerce-based use cases like storefront reviews.
Going back further, Google has long revealed its intentions to use the smartphone as a visual search tool for local discovery. Google Lens lets users hold up their phones at various objects to contextualize them, while Live View lets them navigate urban areas in the ways described above.
But the latest company to signal moves in this direction is Apple. Separated from its recently-announced GeoAnchors, Apple now lets users scan surroundings to localize their device. This is to refine one’s location in 2D Apple Maps, but it’s a possible step towards live AR navigation.
Internet of Places
Before diving into Apple’s latest move, a bit of background is in order. Among all of the flavors of AR being pursued by tech giants, local search and navigation have a semi-clear business case. For one, they’re high-frequency utilities, which are attributes that tend to map to killer apps.
The local commerce components are also attractive, as AR is fit for local search and discovery. In fact, one of the rallying cries of the AR cloud and “AR everywhere” is the technology’s ability to anchor and invoke spatially-relevant graphics that are persistent across sessions and users.
This especially applies to Google as the company’s DNA is about indexing things. It wants to index the physical world just like it indexed the web: a sort of “internet of places.” Support for this theory comes from triangulating its moves and its interest in future-proofing its core search business.
Payoffs include monetization potential — through advertising, affiliate revenue, or other models — to facilitate local offline commerce (at least in normal times). This can be seen as a logical extension of the path Google has been on for years to facilitate local commerce through search.