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  • Jaskaranvir Singh

Augmented Reality (AR) in Car Navigation


Table of Content


What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology similar to virtual reality (VR) but with more added features. AR builds the 3D reality environment by superimposing digital data. In AR technology, the real world is equipped with virtual objects. AR virtual elements can be used to enhance the users’ experience and make the experience an interactive event by features like popping instructions, messages, cartoon characters, intellectual messages, and guide with the help of arrows. AR technology can be implemented in any area of application, including but not limited to automotive, GPS, gaming, and smartphones. Some examples of AR devices are eyeglasses, lenses, scanners, gaming console equipment, and smartphones. AR uses sensory devices to build virtual characters around the object.

Why the current navigational systems need an update in terms of technology?

  1. Not Accurate - The navigation system depends upon receiving signals from the map of satellites orbiting earth. If the signal is received properly from the satellites at the same time, then only the accurate position of the object will be available. On the other hand, if one of the satellites miss out sharing the grid coordinates then the accuracy of the object will not be accurate. Moreover, the atmospheric condition too affects the accuracy of the navigation system.

  2. Lack of Local Knowledge - The information related to the current place or location is available to limited extent. For example, the name of roads, the situation of roads and traffic on days like heavy rains etc.

  3. Driving Distraction - The user needs to continuously check the phone’s screen for location on map which keeps driver distracting while driving.

Why Augmented Reality (AR) in Navigation?

AR technology brings a lot of user-friendly features with it. It provides a feature that helps user to visualize the location in the real world with the help of augmented reality device. As the user puts a search query for a particular location, the AR device will project the road map till the searched location in front of the user. This will make the guiding system more interactive and helpful. The augmented reality annotations will display the useful information like name of the road, nearby important places names, traffic information etc.

How does Augmented Reality (AR) work?

The pivotal motive of the augmented reality technology in navigation systems is to assist the user in providing the useful information and directions with annotations and characters overlaid on top of the real environment.

The technologies behind the augmented reality technology:

  1. SLAM (Simultaneous Location and Mapping) - The simultaneous location and mapping superimpose the virtual characters over the real-world environment. The sensors, for example, gyroscope and accelerometer for localization of the real-world objects is used.

  2. Depth Tracking - The depth tracking is used to calculate the distance of the real-world object with respect to the augmented reality’s camera. The functioning of the AR device’s camera is similar to the ordinary camera used for functions like focusing on an object or blurring the scene.

  3. Image Processing and Projection - The image processing and projection is performed once the above two processes are complete. The Augmented reality program will process the pictures according to the requirement. After processing the pictures are projected on the user’s screen.

Augmented Reality (AR) in Car Navigation as an Application

What if I tell you that, you can get assistance on the navigation app in the form of virtual arrows, road signs, information displaying on your mobile screen about the place, annotations depicting the temperature of the place, or some interactive cartoon characters for talking with you and giving you the information. Sounds good, isn’t it! Augmented Reality gives you these features and allows the users to get guiding information. This technology is utilized in the automotive sector also and gives wonderful results.

Generally, what happens is we ask the passers-by for their advice for reaching our unknown destination. The passer-by may give you a perfect plan to reach the destination, which happens rarely or you may get to listen to a confusing set of instructions to reach the destination. And if one thinks of the 2D maps, you may just get the route with information about the fastest route. But with AR technology, the user can get additional pieces of information like when crossing in front of a building, the name of the building may be displayed on the AR device’s display, restaurant menu outside the restaurants building, name of the roads, traffic information like fastest route, speed limits instructions, and many more. All these features are available just by hovering the AR device on the respective place of interest.

Advantages of using Augmented Reality (AR) in Car Navigation

  • The information available is just a click away.

  • Secure and trustworthy information for tourists and people in unfamiliar places.

  • Less time consuming - People can get any information about the place by just hovering the AR device on the place of interest.

  • Easy access to the driver - The driver need not look down for checking the phone for route maps. The HUD (Heads up display) makes it easier to focus on the road and keep going.

  • The interactive and easy-to-understand annotations by the driver.

  • The AR technology gives notifications to the driver upon suspecting any emergency or hazards on the road. For example, Nissan’s IV Technology (Invisible-to-visible) allows the driver to have an augmented reality co-passenger in the car, which will keep interacting with the driver and will behave like a co-pilot.

Seminal Patent

Title: Apparatus and method of providing road guidance based on augmented reality head-up display

Patent: US9151634B2

Current Assignee: Hyundai Motor Co

Priority Date: February 11, 2014

The patent teaches an arrangement that displays and helps the driver by giving directions with the help of annotations. The guidance is provided on the basis of an augmented reality head-up display (HUD). The memory unit will store instructions related to various programs. The processor will be executing the program instructions. Once the program instructions are executed, annotations will be created displaying the route towards the destination. A virtual preceding vehicle will be displayed on the HUD which will be available through the distance being covered by the driver. The virtual preceding vehicle is the graphical image representation of the driver’s car on the HUD. The turning signals will be displayed on the virtual preceding vehicle at different time instants. The turn signals will be displayed on the basis of the remaining distance of the turning point with respect to the driver’s car position.

Patent Data Analysis

From the above graph, we can see that the maximum number of patent families were filed in 2019. As the technology is in the development phase, we can expect that more patents will be filed in the coming years. The big companies are investing in the idea of AR in car navigation. As the research on augmented reality application in car navigation is in progress the count of patent in this area is expected to rise exponentially. A humble beginning with just 871 patents in the first year went on to 1890 patent applications in the fifth year. It is interesting to note that the peak was observed in the eighth year when the recorded patent application numbers went on to 6824. But a sudden dip was seen in the following year with 5480 patent applications which further fell to 2435 in the tenth year. This might be because of many factors like lack of funds for R&D, loopholes in technical know-how and resistance from buyers; end in the market.

From the above graph, we can see that the US, China, Korea, and Europe are the biggest contributors to this technology. US filed a number of 9909 patent applications, China with total 6546 patents and Japan recorded 4829 patent applications. European Patent office and Korea saw 4096 and 3612 patent applications, respectively. WIPO recorded 2661 patent applications while Germany recorded 1060, India recorded 795, Taiwan saw 642, and Great Britain had 433 patent applications.

From the above graph, we can see LG Electronics is the biggest contributor in developing this technology globally. Next is Semiconductor Energy Laboratory with 2188 patents. Samsung, Sony, and Intel have a total of 1368, 1332, and 1330 patents to their name. Qualcomm can surely do better with just 656 assigned patents.


AR technology in automobiles is going to flourish in the coming years. As people are getting used to AR devices and glasses, the time is not far when AR assistance will be available in the automobile sector. Many top automobile manufacturing companies have already started experimenting the AR technology in cars, trucks, and motorbikes. The report by Fortune Business Insights states that the market for AR in the automotive sector will swell to USD 14.4 B by 2028.

The AR technology in cars can totally change the concept of navigation systems globally. The HUDs (Heads up display) is the initial stage generation technology for automobiles. However, the technology may be implemented on the vehicle’s windshields or by projecting the information on the roads visible to the driver. Although the Heads-up display is being implemented initially in the cars, the development is being done on the windshield concept too. Future AR technology will be available in all sorts of vehicles.

Moreover, it is anticipated that the vehicle’s windshield will be playing the role of the AR device’s display by projecting all the necessary apps, being controlled by voice commands, and making calls.


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