Visual Positioning System

If we checked the history of the internet from early 1991 to date, we all are seeing something ‘new’ every morning. There are a lot of inventions that are underway with the help of the internet to make ease of our everyday life at home, office, travel or at the hospital bed.

Well, current global positioning technology has afforded mobile apps an unprecedented degree of accuracy. Through a simple API, developers can harness a remarkably accurate picture of a user’s location and orientation on Earth. Advances in hardware sensors have only served to refine this picture.

Brands and developers have in turn harnessed this technology to provide a wide variety of services. From breakout entertainment hits such as Pokemon Go to more mundane uses, such as on-demand services (Uber, Postmates), location data has become a staple of the mobile computing environment.

However, the next generation of positioning technology relies less on satellite location. A new solution takes the form of a cloud-based repository of robust image data from physical environments. Dubbed a “visual positioning system” by Google, a pioneer in the space, this software is capable of determining indoor and outdoor location through ad-hoc visual markers. Distinguishing features such as signage, buildings, and walls are identified by scanning geolocated photos, enabling unprecedented accuracy in location data.

Visual Positioning System: The new era in the location accuracy

When your GPS is not enough, the new visual system in Google Maps can also use the newly coined Visual Positioning System (VPS) feature. The VPS uses your phone’s camera and Google’s extensive back-end data to analyze your surroundings to identify where you are with greater accuracy.

Google announced many new software treats at Google I/O today. Aparna Chennapragada introduced one of the best new features: visual guidance and Visual Positioning System in Google Maps Navigation.

One of the most impressive demonstrations by Google’s VP Ms. Aparna Chennapragada at Google I/O developer’s conference was an extremely effective proof of concept. An AR mode added to Google Maps employed VPS to overlay helpful AR artifacts which helped users navigate to their destinations without consulting a map, in one of the first truly compelling use cases for mobile AR.

As we all encountered Google’s map’s delayed response during navigation — “am I going the right direction?” Google Maps can now use your camera to identify your surroundings, visually communicate your route right in front of your eyes!

The difference between GPS and VPS

First, one key difference is that standalone GPS devices actually store their own map data, compared to a smartphone that is cloud-based and requires a connection to download the maps as you go. … Smartphones, on the other hand, are updated automatically since they pull their data from the cloud

Visual Navigation System Overview

visual navigation

Tap a button to activate the visual view and then just point your camera where you need to go to see relevant info. You will see your surroundings with an overlay of Maps information for nearby business, arrows pointing you in the direction you need to go, with a small map at the bottom to remind you where you are headed. This is a powerful addition to Google Maps and Street View.

Google’s even playing with the idea of putting a character on the screen as an augmented reality tour guide. In the demo, it was a little fox.

How VPS works?

visual navigation system

When your GPS is not enough, the new visual system in Google Maps can also use the newly coined Visual Positioning System (VPS) feature. The VPS uses your phone’s camera and Google’s extensive back-end data to analyze your surroundings to identify where you are with greater accuracy.

A few members of our team members are already cheering about this. They live in densely populated urban areas with tall buildings and often complain of GPS drift and other hassles when navigating. The new visual systems are made just for people like them.

But, Google did not mention when these new Maps features would become available. We will be sure to update when we learn more.


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