Augmented Reality for Open Field Navigation

Topic Description

Augmented reality for navigation is becoming widely available on tablets and smartphones. However, the majority of such applications focus on pathfinding (following predefined route segments such as roads, footpaths etc.) through urban environments, often towards predefined points of interest.
These applications combine accurate position determination and three-dimensional models of the local environment to allow registration of the 3D model with the device's camera image.
For open-field navigation, such as on a boat or in open country, the requirements can be more challenging. Not only may there be fewer constraints on direction of travel (few predefined route segments for pathfinding), but the registration process may be much more challenging, primarily because of the distances involved. For example, when seeking to identify the entrance to a harbour, navigation decisions may need to be made at distance of several miles, from which distance the whole of the visible coast may subtend significantly less than a degree of vertical arc. This is then compounded by the difficulty of stabilising an image for a device that is handheld on a boat that moves with waves on the water… Furthermore, there may be reduced visibility, comparable with or perhaps less than the distance to the coast. And, of course, enhanced position fixing beyond standard satellite technology is not available.
These additional complexities open the opportunity to investigate a range of questions surrounding the identification, representation and tagging of landmarks that could be used to help provide visual cues to the intended goal (such as a harbour entrance). This research could address fundamental questions about what influences people's ability to recognise landmarks at a distance, how navigators actually use landmarks, or technical issues about the construction and evaluation of prototype software.

Skills Required:

Background in HCI and software development for mobile devices.
An appreciation of the challenges implicit in open field navigation would be an advantage.

Background Reading:

Basiri, Winstanley, Amirian 2013, "Landmark-based pedestrian navigation",

Chan, Baumann, Bellgrove and Mattingley, 2012 "From Objects to Landmarks: The Function of Visual Location Information in Spatial Navigation", Front Psychol. 2012; 3: 304

Basiria1, Amiriana, Winstanley, Marsha1, Moorea1 and Gales 2016, "Seamless Pedestrian Positioning and Navigation Using Landmarks", Journal of Navigation 69 (01) January 2016, pp 24-40

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Dr David Bowers


Dr David Morse