Google Announces AR Navigation Services - 25/05/2018

Google has introduced many new features for Google Maps using augmented reality (AR) and computer vision. With regards to AR, it has announced a new navigation service, using the camera and GPS of a smartphone to give the user turn-by-turn walking directions.

Google calls this service Visual Positioning System (VPS), referring to the smartphone camera that is used to “recognise” the surroundings, which is matched with Google´s extensive collection of street view imagery in order to define the user´s location. This service will be useful in combination with a series of Yelp-like applications new to Google Maps that use machine learning to give users recommendations for restaurants and bars based on their own and other people´s Google ratings.

Google also has plans for AR using computer vision to identify real-life objects such as buildings and plants. This feature was previously integrated into Google Photos, but will now be released on a number of Android phones so that it works with a smartphone camera. The service also can recognise and copy printed text to a phone. Finally, Google’s ARCore SDK for developing AR experiences on smartphones, has been expanded for building multiplayer AR experiences that can be shared across different devices.


Just after Google announced its new VPS, a new competitor of this service announced itself: a tech startup called Fantasmo, who develops tools for creating 3D indoor and outdoor maps, that can be used for navigation by individuals and robots. With a mobile app named Terra Explorer, georeferenced photos are collected and are turned into a 3D point cloud model.

Last updated: 07/06/2018