Apple has filed for a patent (number 20200386570) for “augmented reality maps” that shows it’s looking at future ways to enhance the augmented reality (AR) features on the iPhone and iPad.
AR systems supplement reality, in the form of a captured image or video stream, with additional information. In the patent filing, Apple notes that, in many cases, such systems take advantage of a portable electronic device’s imaging and display capabilities and combine a video feed with data describing objects in the video. In some examples, the data describing the objects in the video can be the result of a search for nearby points of interest.
For example, a user visiting a foreign city can point a handheld communication device and capture a video stream of a particular view. A user can also enter a search term, such as museums. The system can then augment the captured video stream with search term result information related to nearby museums that are within the view of the video stream. This allows a user to supplement their view of reality with additional information available from search engines.
However, as Apple notes, if a user desires to visit one of the museums, the user must switch applications, or at a minimum, switch out of an augmented reality view to learn directions to the museum. Sometimes such systems can fail to orient a user’s with a poor sense of direction and force the user to correlate the directions with objects in reality. Such a transition is not always as easy as it might seem. For example, an instruction that directs a user to go north on Main St. assumes that the user can discern which direction is north.
What’s more, in some instances, street signs might be missing or indecipherable, making it difficult for the user to find the directed route. Apple doesn’t want such issues with the iPhone and iPad.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent filing: “A handheld communication device can capture and display a real-time video stream. The handheld communication device detects a geographic position and camera direction of the handheld communication device. A route is identified from the geographic position of the handheld communication device to a point of interest. The captured video stream is visually augmented with an indicator indicating a direction to travel to the point of interest. The indicator is overlaid on the captured real-time video stream.”