Navigating indoors is still a pretty old school experience: you look for a map of shops, bathrooms, and accessibility ramps and follow signs to your desired destination, all the while knowing that the super powered computer in your pocket has lost a core functionality without GPS signal. Dent Reality, a UK-based studio, is creating its own augmented reality-based SDK for iOS to remedy this.

As first reported by 9to5Mac, Dent Reality says its SDK can integrate the map of indoor spaces, figure out where the user is, and use virtual paths and arrows to help you find their destination.

Dent Reality isn’t tackling the monumental task of creating a single ‘everywhere’ app though—that’s something that will likely come from platform holders in a first-party solution at some point. As it is, the company provides its developer SDK and services to help places like malls, airports, and retail stores integrate these features into their own apps. The results do look promising though.

Since the SDK integrates with Apple’s ARKit, the company’s solution doesn’t require Apple’s iBeacons or other hardware, just a user’s phone to visually locate itself and display turn-by-turn directions.

Does all of this look more than a bit familiar? There’s a good reason why. You might have seen a prototype back in 2017, shared by iOS developer Andrew Hart. That’s no mere coincidence; Hart is in fact the creator behind Dent Reality.

That said, Dent Reality isn’t the only company exploring AR-based indoor location services.

Google announced its own first-party system dubbed VPS, or visual position system, back at the company’s 2017 I/O dev conference. The company has yet to release VPS for Google Maps though, leaving the limelight for other creators for now.

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Scape Technologies, which recently raised an $8 million funding round, is also building an VPS for smartphones. Much like Google’s VPS, it’s said to marry GPS and AR visual data for more accurate and information-based navigation.

Computer vision company Blippar has released a similar app for iOS called AR City, a free app that you can try now, letting you explore and navigate more than 300 cities worldwide using AR and GPS.

While the technology is poised to change how we navigate indoor spaces, and what information we learn about them along the way, it’s also a prescient look at how immersive head-mounted AR systems could serve up directions in the near future. Whatever the case, the prospect of finding the most direct route to your airport gate, or the nearest wheelchair-accessible ramp is sure to be a welcome change for many.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Brendon Lund

    Great read! My company actually explored doing something like this while investigating applications for 360 photography. We were actually looking at navigating university campuses and convention centers. Specifically, navigating the most efficient ways through campuses and other large format areas for wheelchairs and the mobility impaired. For those with walkers or other assistive walking devices, knowing the nearest route to a convenient path (or at least not expending energy going the wrong way) can be incredibly helpful.

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