I was inspired by how some buildings and universities have complex environments that can be difficult to navigate even with a physical map. I thought about how video games have a character that guides a player to their destination. Therefore, I used Augmented Reality as a bridge between the real and virtual worlds to create AugNav, an app wherein a virtual guide can help you find your destination in any complex environment. This innovation aims to help faculty and students who suffer from developmental topographical disorientation (DTD) and blindness navigate complex campus environments.

What it does

The app uses Apple’s ARKit and data stored in a Node JS server to help a user navigate a complex environment by having them follow a 3D animated figure. Users can also listen to directions given by Azure's Text to Speech service. They can also easily create maps by generating a graph data structure through the intuitive app interface.

How I built it

I built the app using Swift, Azure Cognitive Text to Speech Services, Apple’s ARKit, and HTTP POST requests to communicate with my server. I built the server with Node JS and Microsoft Azure services. The website uses HTML, CSS, Javascript, and JQuery. I received feedback from a family member who suffers from DTD when creating this innovation. They recommended many design choices to me such as the color of the character and labels I could add to allow people with DTD to better orient themselves.

Challenges I ran into

Initially, I was confused about how to have the starting location of the user be correct with regard to the map data, but I realized that Apple’s ARKit has a feature to align the coordinate axis with compass directions and gravity. After implementing this feature, I did not have to worry about the direction the user was facing when loading maps. I also had some difficulty adding Azure Cognitive Services to my app, but after referring to the online example posted by Microsoft, I realized I just had to add a header file to my Xcode project.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I was able to create an unique Augmented Reality app that was inspired from the difficulties people with blindness and DTD face.

What I learned

I learned how to align Apple’s ARKit with compass directions and how to store complex graph data structures in a Node JS Server. I also learned how to use Azure Cognitive Services with iOS apps

What's next for AugNav

I hope this app can help people with DTD and blindness navigate large campuses. Current navigation apps only allow for navigation in streets that are well-known, but my app allows people to create complex maps of buildings or environments.

Source Code

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