Bel ons

Get some fresh air with Augmented Reality outdoor apps

At Dutch Rose Media we are always on the lookout for cool innovations. A trend we are seeing in the Augmented Reality world right now is the shift to outdoor AR. Taking AR with you at all times; on the streets and in all kind of public spaces. It all started with gaming, but it’s shifting more and more to other areas like art and even infrastructure.

Get outside!

Ever since games like Ingress and Pokémon GO we have seen an increase in outdoor Augmented Reality concepts. I know, we mention Pokémon GO a lot (both in our blog posts as in our newsletter), but it’s just a fact that Pokémon GO has been a big game changer for Augmented Reality and the acceptance of AR by the big crowd. You could say Pokémon GO survived the tipping point and boomed AR right into the open arms of the early majority, whom embraced it with enthusiasm.

When I did my research I found an outdoor AR game dated back from 2000, wow! It’s called ARQuake and it’s actually quite impressive for an Augmented Reality production developed in the early 00’s. The equipment for this game consists of some sort of glasses, a helmet, a massive ‘backpack’ with the computer and a gun controller. ARQuake needs a GPS system, GPS tracker and orientation sensors. One could shoot at digital monsters or persons coming straight at you. A great base for AR gaming.

(Person playing ARQuake with all the needed equipment. Source: Augmera)

Nowadays outdoor gaming often results in (first person) shooter games, just like ARQuake. Of course nowadays shooter games are a bit more compact and easier-to-use than ARQuake. Games like and the newest The Walking Dead: Our World app are two fine examples. The latter is the newest outdoor AR game which is already believed to reach the succes of Pokémon GO. The main quest of the game is to fight zombies which are coming your way, just like in the series. Well, it sounds really cool, but the promotional videos are more promising than the graphics in the actual gameplay. Still, it’s great that branded games like these make outdoor AR gaming bigger.

(Scene of the promotional video for The Walking Dead: Our World app. Source: Next Games Youtube)

More than just gaming

I gathered a few cool Augmented Reality examples of how it is used outdoors right at this moment. In different areas, so not just gaming examples!

Murals & statues: A rather obvious way of using AR in the open is the transition of scanning print media content “inside”, like post cards or business cards, to scanning physical media outside, like murals. It works the same (using image recognition and perhaps based on GPS location), now it is only moved outside. There are many examples of murals that can be scanned with AR, but one of the newest is LARA Mural in Copenhagen. Just simply scan a mural with the AR app on your smartphone and the mural will start to move or come to life. Another cool use for AR and outdoor murals is the SketchAR app which will help you to make actual graffiti designs on walls. Just upload your design to the app and it will then show you which lines to spray onto the wall.

Another cool example of outdoor art with AR is the WILD LIFE exhibition in London. Statues of animals are placed in the Broadgate area and are scannable with the Marokka app. 3D animated animals like a gorilla, a giraffe and an elephant will appear after scanning the statues, revealing the exhibit in full glory.

Shipping industry: Let’s do a 180 and look at a whole other side of outdoor AR. The “fabulous” shipping industry is innovative in it’s own way and more often they are looking for solutions with Augmented or Virtual Reality. A company called Easy Marine is introducing eAR (easy Augmented Reality) for shipping navigation. Their service is still in development, but the idea is to scan and evaluate real time information (with AR glasses), making decision making more convenient for shipping captains.

(Conceptual design for eAR on a ship. Source: Easy Marine)

New worlds: The release of both Apple ARKit (read more about the Apple ARKit in this blogpost) and Google ARCore opens up new ways of 3D use. Some cool examples we have spotted are so-called “AR portals” created with Apple ARKit: digital portals placed in the actual world that open up virtual worlds you can step into. Just watch the video below and you’ll see how cool this really is! Creations like these are perfect for storytelling, but also for education. Imagine ‘stepping’ into the first World War or a different country at the other side of the globe!

Outdoor gaming: Okay, okay. I know I said outdoor AR is more than just gaming, but there are some really cool games right now that need to be shared. And sure, it seems like outdoor and location-based gaming is booming business right now. But that’s for a reason: apparently people like to combine gaming and being outside! For the little ones, there’s a game called Magical Park. An Augmented Reality game mainly based in New-Zealand that let’s children go to the park and experience hunting for 3D kittens or dinosaur eggs. For grown-ups there’s a new showcase called Vortex Ball. A game in which you have to attack robot spiders by shooting bombs at them. What’s really interesting about games like these two is the use of 3D and surfaces. In Vortex Ball, you really see how the digital spiders “know” where the street is and where they can step off the wall and onto the horizontal street surface. With developments like Apple ARKit and Google ARCore games like these will only become way cooler in the future!

(Hunting for dinosaur eggs in Magical Park. Source: GEO AR Games)

Outdoor is the future

Of course we’re very proud of all the outdoor Augmented Reality productions we’ve developed ourselves, like the Kabouterbos, De Tijdkijker and all our ByAR walking and cycling routes. But it’s always a good idea to keep looking for other productions, since there are so many excellent AR (outdoor) concepts nowadays. In many situations Augmented Reality is being used indoors, but the possibilities for outdoor AR are so great! We believe it won’t take long before you’ll be able to customize your own surroundings by adding 3D objects or by placing already existing world filters. Augmented Reality can make the world a better place, both visually as functionally. And we’re happy to participate in that 🙂