Dent Reality — Building the future of Indoor AR navigation

Andrew Hart
Sep 26 · 3 min read

Since Augmented Reality first hit the mainstream two years ago, Dent Reality has been relentlessly innovating. We developed the most popular open-source project for mobile AR, allowing any mobile developer to build world-scale AR apps. We demonstrated AR navigation for the first time, and pioneered core technologies now used in popular products such as Google Maps and Pokemon Go. And we’ve innovated in AR experience, producing some of the most highly-regarded work in the space.

Last summer, we began exploring the potential for using our technology to navigate indoor spaces. With indoor navigation, shopping centres and retail stores can help shoppers find the products they’re looking for. Campuses can ensure students are on-time for their next class. And at a hospital, there’s nothing more important than helping people find the ward they’re looking for, at the critical moment when they need it most.

But solving this problem introduces significant technical challenges, such as understanding where the person is. GPS doesn’t work well indoors, and so new technologies need to be developed to support accurate positioning. And because indoor buildings are really complex, a new kind of navigation experience needs to be designed, to help people find what they’re looking for.

We’ve built a full end-to-end solution which provides accurate indoor positioning, clear indoor maps with turn-by-turn directions, and AR navigation. Large organisations can now provide the best AR experience to their customers, simply and easily.

Technology

The first challenge for an indoor experience is achieving accurate indoor positioning. Previously, this meant purchasing and maintaining thousands of expensive bluetooth beacons, an approach which ultimately provided poor results.

Our technology doesn’t require anything like that. Instead, we start by leveraging existing WiFi. Apple’s new Indoor Maps Program allows any organisation to setup accurate indoor positioning for iOS devices, achieving around five meters of accuracy.

On a map, this level of accuracy is reasonable, but AR requires a much higher level of precision — if an arrow is supposed to appear in front of you, but it’s five meters off, that’s a really poor experience.

Through leveraging a mix of Machine Learning and our own proprietary algorithms, we combine WiFi positioning with live on-device sensor data, which enables us to position a user at an order of magnitude more accurate than WiFi positioning on its own.

This is the most accurate indoor positioning available on mobile. And it works entirely on-device, with no infrastructure or maintenance costs.

Experience

AR is an exciting new way to display interactive content — just like a computer UI, a webpage, or a touchscreen app once were. In the early days of those technologies, there was some learning involved before people understood how to design a great experience.

Over the past year, we’ve done extensive research in this area, iterating over many prototypes and possibilities, enabling us to build a world-class AR navigation experience. We considered the strengths of the underlying technology, and built a cohesive navigation system which uses clear visual cues to guide the user towards their destination. This ultimately gives users an experience which is simple to understand, and feels like magic.

The AR experience is integrated seamlessly with the regular UI of the phone — hold up for AR, bring down for map and regular UI. The same as using the camera in an app like Snapchat.

Leveraging our positioning technology, we’re able to counter typical issues seen with large-scale AR, such as “drift”, where the experience gets less accurate the more you move around. And we don’t require any user calibration — we expect people to open and close the app frequently as they need it.


Our reputation is built on solving the core technology problems, and high-level user experience challenges, to build the AR technology of the future.

We’re currently working with exclusive partners in our early access phase, bringing AR navigation to shopping centres, airports, hospitals and other spaces around the world. You can apply via our website.

Dent Reality

Building Indoor AR navigation for shopping malls and other large spaces

Andrew Hart

Written by

I’ve orbited the sun 28 times.

Dent Reality

Building Indoor AR navigation for shopping malls and other large spaces

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