Google Maps is one of the most used navigation applications in the world. The company tries to use new technologies to improve its services and strengthen its dominance in the market. Some users have already tried a new version of Google Maps with augmented reality (AR),according to the newspaper The Wall Street Journal.
The AR serves, through a smartphone or a tablet, superimposing digital layers in a real-world environment. Pokemon Go It is one of the most popular examples of this technology. In the case of navigation applications, this immersive technique can be very useful in crossings, alleys or narrow avenues where it is more complicated to navigate.
In this new version, when choosing a destination, the user is offered the possibility of using augmented reality. This is explained by a journalist The Wall Street Journal who has tried the new feature: "When I opened the Google Maps application and looked for coffee shops, it looked the same as before. But when I chose one, I saw a new option: "Start AR". I clicked on it and the common map vanished and was replaced by a real-time view of the world in front of me. "
Google is very clear that this function is not to be used while driving, according to the same newspaper. The application uses the camera of the device and a visual positioning system to identify the environment and know where the pedestrian is. The usual map is replaced by the image of the camera, in which elements superimposed by augmented reality appear. For example, arrows and large directions that indicate to the user the path he must take to reach his destination.
The company announced the arrival of augmented reality to Google Maps at the Developer Conference last year. But it has now been when he has released this new version in beta mode only for some Local Guides – people who regularly contribute reviews and information to Google Maps. The company has not clarified when this function will be available to all users.
The extended reality
More and more companies are turning to augmented reality to improve their services. Also to virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (RM). VR allows the user to immerse themselves in a virtual world thanks to special glasses. Meanwhile, the RM serves to put virtual objects on a real environment, just as it happens in augmented reality, but the difference is that it allows the user to interact with them.
The grouping of these three immersive techniques, which are increasingly used in combination, is called extended reality. In Spain in the last two years the businesses around the extended reality have grown by 86.6%, according to the XR Report of 2018, prepared by The App Date, Oarsis and Fundación Telefónica.
The majority of the projects of extended reality realized in 2018, according to the same study, are divided between entertainment (16%), marketing and publicity (15%); education (15%); tourism (14%); architecture, engineering and industry (12%); real estate sector (7%); health (7%); technology disclosure (5%), services (5%); and, finally, social awareness (4%).
"We are in a phase in which we are experimenting and we are beginning to see the real uses of this technology", explains Diego Laforga, responsible for communication of the specialized company in extended reality Isostopy. Only between 2018 and 2022 is expected an increase of almost 700% in the business that generates the extended reality (agglutinates virtual reality, augmented and mixed): from a figure of around 27,000 million dollars to 209,000 million,according to Statista.
Laforga believes that the extended reality needs a process of maturation ":" This technology, as we know it today, has been used only about four years. " But from now on, industry experts predict that in addition to serving for example to improve navigation applications, revolutionize the businesses of different industries such as banking, fashion or entertainment. Also the pharmaceutical field, since the augmented reality can be useful to explain to a doctor or a patient how to inject a certain medicine. "You can focus with a mobile on the arm and that a syringe appears indicating exactly where you need to enter, at what angle and in what way," explains Laforga.
There are already some projects that use augmented reality to capture the attention of young students: "For example, you could point a phone to a traditional drawing in a textbook and suddenly that drawing came to life and a video was played about how the human body is formed. " Another industry that is investing in this technology, according to Laforga, is the industrial one: "It can be used to prevent occupational risks. Imagine a technician who has to learn how to fix a windmill and for that he has to climb up and learn a series of instruments. If that environment we manage to reflect and develop it in virtual form from the offices of the company, you can learn the same without having to move there and without the risk that entails ".