Google pushed a new kind of augmented reality walking navigation to the mainstream last year, and now Phiar hopes users will use the AR app for navigation the same way.
The company is currently inviting the public to sign ready for the launch of its own beta, scheduled for the first week of February. About 25 to 50 participants will be selected in the first wave of the program.
Based on the beta registration survey, it appears that an iPhone 7 or newer is required for participation (we have contacted Phiar to confirm this).
In the meantime, a demo video with images that Phiar claims was recorded live on devices from the iPhone X series, us a taste of what to expect. The app displays trusted signposting icons in the app's view of the road, including guidance for turns, lanes, and destination. Based on the images, the app apparently also works during night and rain. The experience also includes a few heads-up display functions, such as card overlay, battery runtime, and estimated time of arrival.
The video also shows the artificial intelligence technology behind the app. Phiar's technology uses computer vision and machine learning to recognize lanes, cars, pedestrians and other objects in the camera image of the smartphone. Thanks to this knowledge of the environment, the app can display route guidance in the camera view.
The beta launch of the app comes around 14 months after Phiar raised a $ 3 million financing round, including the Venture Reality Fund and Norwest Venture Partners.
Car manufacturers are currently trying to add AR navigation functions to emerging models, with companies such as WayRay and Nvidia competing to provide them with AR navigation technology. . Phiar also plans to participate, with the final videos of the app demo switching to conceptual footage of how the company hopes its technology will look in future versions of the app via windshield displays.
To date, the availability of AR navigation via mobile devices has been limited to walking navigation, which has steadily made its way. found to pedestrians. Google initially launched its AR walking navigation for Google Maps in a limited preview for participants in its Crowdsourcing program Local Guides, then renamed it to Google Maps Live View and expanded that preview to all Pixel users. However, since then the feature appears to have been withdrawn for Pixel 4 users.
In addition, Mapbox, Dent Reality, Visualix and Blippar are among the companies that offer SDK & # 39; s for building walking or indoor AR navigation experiences . Although Blippar's AR City app is no longer available, Hotstepper (built through Mapbox) offers walking AR navigation that is more entertainment than a utility app.
Although we don't have the technology have been able to test firsthand, Phiar seems to be delivering an easier way to bring AR navigation to cars. However, it remains to be seen whether the technology displayed on devices that have led to the term distracted driving is a convenience or an obstacle.
I personally trust Google Maps or Waze, especially for live traffic information about my daily commute, but its help is especially useful at a glance. And I have found the Live View function very useful for walking through unknown cities. However, one of the features of the function is to turn off the AR display while users are moving. Will Phiar's constant live feed improve the navigation experience? I'd like to know.