August 21, 2018

Blippar's AR tech does indoor navigation without SLAM or beacons

Finding your way inside large indoor environments like airports or malls can be a daunting experience. Blippar, a company focused in augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and computer vision, eases that problem with a tool  called Indoor Visual Positioning that uses AR experience to help with navigation in these environments.

Blippar’s base tech

Last year, Blippar announced a location-based AR technology, Urban Visual Positioning, which uses computer vision technology to provide “more accurate location data than GPS (more than double the accuracy)” and “cover entire cities.” It can also accurately estimate latitude, longitude, and orientation of a user’s phone in an urban scenario with respect to the surrounding environment. In November 2017, Blippar launched the beta of the AR Maps and Navigation app, AR City, which uses the very same technology to explore and navigate over 300 cities worldwide using AR.

“The technology helps to align and superimpose the physical and virtual worlds more accurately than GPS and will not only empower the industry to create more sophisticated AR experience but it has potential to significantly impact areas like tourism, city mapping, real-world 3D gaming, and more,” said Omar Tayeb, CTO and co-founder of Blippar.

Indoor positioning

Now, Blippar is using this technology as part of a new system – Indoor Visual Positioning – to transform any indoor environment or space into an immersive AR experience. According to the company, “the combination of these systems is the first of its kind and can revolutionize a host of industries, including shopping and retail; entertainment and gamification; tourism; and design.”

By using floorplans or architectural CAD models, Blippar can quickly create the Visual Positioning system, with no need to “access visual maps of the environment (e.g. via SLAM) – which require additional expensive technology, are time-consuming to generate, and require frequent updating”.

Additionally, the system “requires the presence of a few distinctive visual elements, such as posters, paintings or aisle signs” to position the user in the environment. It does not use QR codes or expensive localisation equipment like beacons, although the latter can naturally integrate with the localization engine if needed.

Also, after the initial download of the app and set up, the system operates in offline mode, not requiring mobile data or even a WIFI connection.Blippar’s new system is currently in testing and will launch in early 2019.


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