Looking deeper into LiveSight and Augmented Reality

Ian Delaney
London 51° 30' 23.112" N, -0° 7' 37.956" E

LiveSight is a new Augmented Reality technology from HERE that allows Points of Interest (or other geo-referenced data) to be projected directly onto the camera display screen of your device.

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LiveSight was first introduced in the HERE Maps app for Windows Phone, where it’s a discoverable option alongside more traditional views such as satellite imagery and traffic overlays. To use LiveSight, you can just tilt your phone upwards, and watch the POI’s transition from the 2D map into selectable markers in the real world.

More recently, the LiveSight technology was added to the HERE SDK, allowing third-party developers to create their own apps with an augmented reality view.

We asked Daniel Kraus, who leads the HERE Augmented Reality team, about what LiveSight offers and why he finds it so exciting.

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“LiveSight is a whole new way to interact with the world on your device - a way that is much more natural and human. Rather than searching through lists of information, it allows you to see the information care about directly in the context of the real world.

“LiveSight is really a heads-up solution for finding places. Using LiveSight, you can easily use your phone to search for places, such as restaurants – for example, pizza places around you – and the phone can show you right where they are, and in which direction to walk.

“The usability goes further than seeing and following markers, though. Since LiveSight markers are selectable, and can also be attached to wide variety of different data (such as POIs, videos, audio, PDF documents and so on), as a developer you can create all sorts of amazing new experiences, enabling your users to truly interact with the world around them. Moving forward, this is an interaction style that will also work very comfortably with voice search.

At HERE, we’re building an index of the world. The ambition with LiveSight is to allow immediate, spontaneous access to that index.

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But augmented reality has been around in various forms for a long time. If it’s so good, then why is it still relatively niche?

“Historically, Augmented Reality is a technology domain in which it’s fairly easy to build a demo, but actually very challenging to build an application that’s robust enough for enterprise or consumer use. You need to handle many different conditions, and the output has to be very precise”

“The device’s sensors – the GPS, the compass and the accelerometer – have to be correctly handled, so the phone knows exactly where it is and where it’s pointing. And, of course, the map needs to be highly accurate, too.”

“In addition, the interaction model - decisions such as the way in which the markers appear, how large they should be, how they come into view, how they move - is all an art rather than a science, and it’s an art we’ve been working on a long time.”

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“After more than 10 years of research and work in this area, HERE is in a great place to deliver on our vision of Augmented Reality – and the hardware we have available is increasingly precise.”

The addition of LiveSight APIs to our SDK for developers opens the door for enterprise apps, which Daniel views as a really fruitful area for development.

“Using the SDK, developers can bring their own data-set to the map. This can be extremely powerful. Developers could create an app that lets field engineers ‘see’ the position of buried cables and pipes under the street. Or say you’re an electrician on an oil-rig and you need to find every transformer box. Outside of heavy industry, there are also great opportunities in advertising and tourism. Whatever people can imagine.

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The beauty of the LiveSight technology is that it’s fully integrated with the HERE map – making it straight-forward to implement for developers, and a really terrific, seamless experience for users.

In addition to what we’ve already delivered with the HERE SDK, we have some really exciting things coming in this area next year, but we’ll have to leave those topics for later!”

image credit: Lumia Conversations

Topics: Mobile Apps, Augmented Reality, Developers, Features

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