What if you could look at a building through the camera on your phone, and not only be told what shops and services are located on each floor, but also get general information about the building itself? What if you could see what it might have looked like 50 or 100 years ago? This might sounds like space-age technology, but it could be coming to your smartphone very soon.

Augmented reality is now making its debut in a big way. A number of major companies have already started using it to their advantage. IKEA has been digitally putting their products in customers’ homes since 2013, and Fiat has recently started putting customers in the digital driver’s seats of their cars. It’s only a matter of time before cities and governments start using this same technology to make urban areas more livable.

Augmented Reality Can Improve Tourism

The city of Palm Springs, California recently unveiled the “VisitPalmSprings” app which provides real-time information on where to stay, play, dine, and shop for tourists and locals alike. The app uses interactive maps and compass views to show users where to get exclusive deals and find points of interest by virtually ‘moving’ to another location to see what’s waiting for them there. Its augmented reality features also use geospatial and pointing-enabled search so all you have to do is use your phone’s camera and you can see exactly where points of interest lie.

Paris also has it’s own augmented reality app for tourists as well. CultureClic is an app which provides geolocated information on famous works of art, as well as buildings around the city. Simply point your phone at almost any location, and information pops up on your screen, giving you more information about the things around you. You can also use the app to superimpose historical images over modern buildings. If you want to see what the Eiffel Tower looked like during its construction, just point your camera at it and have a look.

Augmented Reality Can Help You Get Around

There are a plethora of apps you can use to find out exactly how to get where you’re going, such as the Departures app that started in Switzerland, and is now available in NYC and San Francisco. If you want to find the closest public transportation options, all you have to do is turn on the app, point your phone around the street, and relevant information will pop up on the screen directing you to the nearest bus, tram, or train station, and you’ll be given information about arrivals, departures, and destinations. It also provides real-time information on delays, changes, and running status of various transportation options.

If you’re tired of looking at the boring, non-interactive subway map hanging in New York’s subway stations, you can now use your phone to bring them to life. The Tunnel Vision app works with the physical map on the wall to show you real-time transit information on the trains running under the city’s streets. Just point your phone at the map, and you’ll know where your train currently is and when it’ll be arriving at your station.

See a Building’s Impact Before It’s Constructed

Through the power of augmented reality, we can now use our smartphones or tablets to view and assess the affect a planned building will have on a neighborhood before it’s constructed. In many places, plans for new construction are met with an arduous approval process which must assess the impact the new building project will have on the existing neighborhood. Previously, this task relied on models (which don’t give an accurate impression of what the building will actually look like in reality) or on still renderings (which don’t allow you to view the planned construction from all angles or locations). This new technology has the potential to speed up the approval process saving both time, and money.

Smart Cities Are the Future

The small devices we all carry in our pockets have the power to drastically change the way we view the cities around us. Now, we can see things in real-time that we were never able to before. This allows us to better plan our days, our schedules, our routes, and our vacations. Augmented reality apps in cities allow you to: 

  • Spend less time commuting, and more time with your friends and family.
  • Be informed about the best places to eat, visit, and play.
  • Get more information about the places around you.
  • Have faster response times to problems in your community.

These are just a few of the ways which augmented reality has already been put to use in our cities, but new applications are always being developed. As technology improves, so too will the ways we use it to interact with the places we live and the places we visit. RenderThat is helping to bring these possibilities to life. If you’d like to know more about what we’re doing, and how we can help you, please get in touch today.