When exploring brand new places in brand new cities, we found that the maps apps on our phone often fail to provide us with a quick and intuitive perspective of the places of interest surrounding us. We wanted to explore a solution that can give us a down-to-earth (literally) view of places nearby and how far they are.

Our App

For our app lookARound, the function is in its name - to find what’s nearby, all the user has to do is point their device and look around. ARkit and Google Cloud APIs enable our app to find points of interest and display them in augmented reality using the phone’s camera and gyroscope.

Google Cloud Platform APIs

By using Google Maps API, the app retrieves the location of the user and nearby places. The user can customize what categories places he/she wants to be displayed as a result. The user can get further details about the results, such as distance, ratings and other useful bits of information that are offered as a part of the Maps API.

Augmented Reality

Apple’s ARKit 3 takes advantage of the app’s gyroscope and camera to display images that appear, move and disappear based on the user’s orientation. AR opens a lot of paths for future development and makes the user experience smoother.

What comes next?

By using Google Maps Routes API, we can add augmented-reality-based navigation, as well as route planning for multiple stops in a given area. Furthermore, the application can be expanded with Firebase to store data such as places visited and the user’s previous experiences.

The app can potentially be used in emergency situations to allow users to check the direction and distance, for example, from the nearest hospital or police station. In these situations, providing a visual representation of locations on top of a real-time stream of what a human sees can be greatly helpful - while also offering a peace of mind.

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