Imagine having a private tour-guide that would give you personalised directions to a meeting room, office or lecture theatre as you are navigating around and inside an unfamiliar series of buildings on campus, for example. Moreover, the information is tailored for students, visitors and staff, taking into account different access preferences (i.e. stairs, lifts, disabled access points, etc). Not only could point-to-point directions be given, but whole tours and journeys constructed.
Using the latest augmented reality for mobile devices and fiducial markers placed at key locations, that is exactly what this project delivered as a pilot study. Furthermore, this system worked equally well both indoors and outside because it did not rely on GPS; all you needed to do was download the corresponding “Sheffield University Navigation App” and let the passive fiducial markers guide the way.
To get directions, the user told their camera-enabled handheld device where they were going, pointed it at any of the fiducial markers placed around the building (or campus), and on their screen, overlaid onto the real scene, there appeared animated virtual signposts which showed them the way to their destination (also supported by audio).
Dynamic signage is just one example of how this system could be used: reality could be augmented with changing artworks, or even “treasure hunts” where each marker gives you a clue to the next, thus following a pathway, but who knows what the next marker will show – you could even ask a question about the path the user has just taken and give an appropriate visualisation based on the correctness of their response (something more useful in a museum setting where you are reaching out to children by providing fun ways to learn and observe).
- Dr Michael Meredith (Principal Investigator – The Digital Humanities Institute)
- Keira Borrill (Research Associate – The Digital Humanities Institute)