Augmented reality is becoming increasingly widespread, with a variety of professional and leisure applications using digital content to complement and augment the physical world, and many augmented reality software developers are taking advantage of GNSS high-accuracy for their localisation needs. A session at the Munich Satellite Navigation Summit at the end of March discussed the challenges of combining these two technologies.
Augmented reality is a major emerging trend, the societal impact of which will be increasingly felt in the coming years. “When we look at the forecasts for augmented reality, we expect 50% growth over the next two to three years,” said Dr Philipp Rauschnabel, Professor for Digital Marketing and Media Innovation at the Bundeswehr University Munich.
Rauschnabel noted that augmented reality can create significant value for companies in a number of ways, through new AR-enabled business models, in the marketing sphere, and in industrial production, maintenance and training, where AR solutions can make processes more efficient.
Scan the world with GNSS
In his presentation, Darius Pajouh, Managing Director of computer vision company Visualix, stressed the essential contribution of positioning to augmented reality applications. “Visual mapping and localisation are the key technologies that original equipment manufacturers use to create shared experiences,” he said.
Pajouh noted that, as the technology is still relatively new, not all the use cases are totally clear yet. One thing that is clear, however, is the size of the potential market. “The market is about to explode,” he said.
Visualix uses the tracking capabilities of mobile phones, like ARCore and ARKit, as well as Google glasses and other hardware, to generate a 3D model of an indoor space as a base for AR deployment in an area of up to 10,000 square meters.
The aim is that, by incorporating satellite technology, it will be possible to remove the size constraints, Pajouh said. “I am very excited about the possibility of also doing outdoor localisation and combining visual and satellite tracking to see how satellite navigation can reduce our computational load.”
Tracking user requirements
Fiammetta Diani, Head of Market Development at the European GNSS Agency (GSA), looked at the ways that GNSS can support augmented reality and how augmented reality can be an opportunity for GNSS innovators.
Diani said that the GSA met with augmented reality users last December, in the frame of the European GNSS User Consultation Platform, to discuss their requirements. At the meeting, users categorised use cases in two streams - leisure and professional, with applications targeting travel and tourism, live sporting events, and augmented navigation for assisted driving. Professional use cases included industrial design and architecture.
“These augmented reality applications have three main requirements - ubiquity, accuracy and security,” Diani said, adding that accuracy requirements vary – for some applications, accuracy of one to two metres is sufficient, while others require decimetre or even centimetre accuracy, in addition to protection against spoofing.
GNSS can meet these requirements, Diani said. “Firstly, the second E5/L5 frequency is already providing metre-level accuracy and many chipmakers in the professional and consumer domains are investing in dual-frequency,” she said.
GNSS driving innovation
Diani noted that in 2020 Galileo would also offer a precise point positioning (PPP) service that will give global decimetre-level accuracy free of charge. “So you will have dual-frequency accuracy to which you can add correction services. In the same timeframe we will also offer authentication, which will provide protection against spoofing. What’s more, the E5 signal also offers better multipath protection,” she said.
In this way, GNSS is ready to meet the needs of the burgeoning augmented reality segment, which is set to see record growth. “Recent market research shows that augmented reality may be the fastest growing GNSS segment, worth up to EUR 40 billion,” Diani said.
Other participants noted that GNSS not only supports augmented reality applications, but is driving innovation in the augmented reality segment. “The more accurately you can track, the more use cases there will be,” said Wolfgang Stelzle, CEO of RE’FLEKT GmbH.
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