LiveSight was recently introduced to HERE Maps, bringing augmented reality to the masses of people already using HERE Maps to accurately find their way in the world. We caught up with André Fialho, UX design lead for LiveSight, to find out precisely what LiveSight is, how it works and to talk about its design.
“So far we have represented the world through maps from a top to bottom point-of-view. With street level we then brought it to 1st person perspective. With LiveSight we actually use your own sight and the world itself becomes the interface. We strip away complexity to reveal what’s important from your own immediate perspective.”
LiveSight is part of the HERE platform
Using a fleet of camera, radar and sensor filled cars, we’re building a 3D model of the world. From this data and imagery we know precisely where individual buildings are, how tall they are and whether you can see places nearby or whether other buildings hide them.
All of this data goes into the HERE platform, which powers LiveSight, and if the platform receives an update, so does everything else that’s plugged into it.
“LiveSight can be activated as a map mode, in exactly the same way that you can switch from satellite, public transit, traffic and the normal map view. So, LiveSight is part of the map canvas: wherever there is a map, there will be LiveSight.”
Integrating LiveSight into HERE Maps
“Because the nature of HERE Maps is all about finding locations, we wanted people to do that in the way they’re already familiar with. But we also wanted people’s experience of LiveSight to be a familiar one, too.”
To fully help you get a better sense of where you are, you can tilt your phone upwards to see the world through the camera or tilt down to see the map. Smooth transitions allow you to see the same content without losing orientation while switching between views.
“Each view has its purpose. In bringing both views together, we convey one world where the same content is shown from different perspectives according to your needs.”
Overcoming user experience and design challenges
When LiveSight is activated, it makes use of the GPS, the compass, the accelerometer, the gyroscope, and the camera.
While all of these sensors combined create a great experience, the HERE team understands that it won’t be used every time – it wouldn’t be optimal for battery life to have these always switched on.
André mentions something quite interesting when referring to the camera:
“When you’re trying to get a reading from a sensor inside a mobile phone, the measurements given are in a constant state of flux – it ‘wobbles’ a lot, because it’s sensitive. When showing a POI (Point Of Interest) on the screen, that needs to remain static.”
“To overcome these ‘wobbles’ we combined the sensor input to image tracking. The camera looks at the world around you, such as buildings, roads, etc. and makes continuous adjustments to movements so that everything is stable or in the correct position.”
André explains that not only does LiveSight need to accurately show you what you’re looking for, but those POIs must be easily seen in any lighting condition, no matter what background they’re laid onto.
While some device-specific features help with this, such as the 4.5″ AMOLED screen of the Nokia Lumia 925, the LiveSight markers have been designed to really stand out.
With LiveSight, the background can be absolutely anything, depending on where or what the user is pointing the phone at. Not only that, but you want to be able to identify what type of place is signified at a glance.
“To overcome this, we used colour coded categories to make it easy for people to distinguish between different types of venues at a glance. If you look down the street and see lots of green markers, you know that’s where all the eateries are. Look up the street, however, and see nothing but red markers, that’s the way you should head if you’re looking for sightseeing hotspots.”
During testing, André and the team discovered that people mostly use AR when the phone is at about nose height, in an almost upright position. They’ll also likely be stationary at this point, too, as opposed to walking.
HERE Maps with LiveSight is all about making your journey easier, quicker, and as reliable as possible.