Apple has filed a patent for augmented reality technology that could enable it to actually threaten the dominant Google Maps. The Apple Maps patent is called “Navigation using augmented reality,” and it describes AR navigation technology.
The AR navigation patent describes “a computer-implemented method for guiding a user along a route between at least two locations” using a mobile device with a display and a camera. The device must be positioned to take images in front of the vehicle and receive information about the user’s route from a server.
As the user drives, the technology superimposes a navigational layer over the images captured by the device’s camera. The navigational layer consists of “a blocked region covering areas of the series of images outside of the one or more designated lanes and below the horizon.” By superimposing the navigational layer on top of the images, the driver can more easily see and understand which lane they need to be in “without having to decipher how general symbols correlated with the real world.”
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Although the Apple Maps patent describes technology that must be used on a mobile device mounted on a dashboard, Cult of Mac suggests the AR navigation might work better as an app running on the augmented reality glasses Apple has been rumored to be working on for years. However, it could be quite some time before the AR glasses land on the market because the company has reportedly put the project on hold.
Additionally, there’s no guarantee that the AR navigation feature described in the patent will end up becoming a reality. Companies like Apple file patents for all sorts of technology that never becomes a real product available to consumers.
While Google is still very much the dominant force in navigation, Apple clearly isn’t giving up on its own Maps app, even after the major problems it experienced with the app several years ago. German news outlet Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that Apple Maps vehicles are scheduled to start surveying Germany starting next week and running through the middle of September. The images captured by the vehicles will be used to continue to expand Apple’s version of Google Street View.
According to a list on the Apple Maps website, the vehicles will also be taking images in several provinces of Canada through November and in Japan through October. Apple is wrapping up its mapping efforts in the U.K. and Ireland, Italy, Portugal and San Marino this month. The company has been and will continue capturing images in the U.S. throughout the year.