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Home / Technology / Google Maps uses huge virtual arrows to keep people from getting lost

Google Maps uses huge virtual arrows to keep people from getting lost



On Monday, Google Maps let some users test a new augmented reality feature in their mobile app, which displays graphics – such as highlighted arrows and street names hovering in the air – from their camera live on their smartphone screens. It should help them to navigate the streets of the city.

Google's Rachel Inman, who works on the user experience for the new feature, said the company hopes to make it easier to switch between the two-dimensional map on the phone and the three-dimensional world around you.

"We all had the experience of coming up from the subway and going half way or one full block in the wrong direction, and were really annoyed when we had to turn around and go the way we really wanted. "She told CNN Business a real demonstration of the San Francisco feature on Monday.

Although many companies, including Google, have been working on augmented reality products for years, few have been lucky with consumers. (Pokémon Go, created by Niantic, which emerged from Google, is a notable exception.) There are two main reasons for this: it's hard to figure out what to do with the technology, and virtual images are actually hard to come by to combine real objects around you.
Google Maps believes it has cracked the nut, and it has shown CNN Business on a walk from a park on the San Francisco coast to a café about half a mile away. When I used the feature in Google Maps on a demo smartphone, I saw the names of the upcoming streets floating in the air on the screen. When I was about to turn, big arrows appeared to show me the way. When I reached my destination, a large red Google Maps PIN appeared in my field of vision.

As the feature is still in the early stages of user testing, Google still has some issues. I noticed, for example, that the AR pictures in the app did not work several times when I went to the cafe.

But if I was in a new city, I could save time if I talk about the direction ̵

1; especially if I had just jumped out of a bus or train.

  Google is testing new AR features for its Google Maps app.

Google said that the feature is only offered to a small group of people who frequently use and contribute to Google Maps. The company does not say when it will be widely available.

"We're learning a lot, that's still very early," warned Marek Gorecki, an engineer for Google Maps.

One reason the technology needs time to perfect is that even now it's difficult to reliably find where you are and in which direction you are on a smart-phone card.

Typically, a smartphone uses its built-in GPS receiver and compass to determine your location and which direction you are in a map app. However, this can be difficult in crowded cities. GPS relies on a line-of-sight connection to relay radio signals from distant satellites to your phone, so tall buildings can make it difficult to find out exactly where you are. The compass can also be dropped in urban areas, as magnetic objects such as metal in buildings, cars, buses and urban infrastructure – such as light poles – abound.

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Google uses artificial intelligence to find out where things are. The company has assembled images of streets and attractions around the world from its Street View program. With the new AR feature, users can pause the phone to match details about landmarks (including buildings) with the visuals that the app has already captured. Google Maps uses machine learning to determine which details are likely to be the same and which are best ignored (eg, trees, as they can change with the seasons).

Once Google Maps has a clearer picture of it Wherever you are, virtual images can be placed over the smartphone's camera. They look more like they are integrated into reality – something that companies have been putting into smartphone apps long before AR.

Google is currently trying to keep these pictures simple. A previous prototype of the AR feature showed fireworks when a user had reached their destination on Google Maps, Gorecki said. The team decided that this was not a good idea.

"It was mainly a distraction," he said. "You do not want to overdo it."


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