The release of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore significantly improved the scalability of AR VR apps, offering a new era of AR experience. And for geo-spatial orientation, a perfect blend and coordinating system created by ARKit or ARCore has its origin in the location of the user or the device where tracking is always initialized, resulting in different coordinates with every runtime instance of application of different devices.

Ways to establish a location of any device

Using image markers or QR codes help you to provide a permanent coordinate system. But these are out-dated now or are least favored by any user. Futhermore, visual recognition systems (SLAM) don’t work in larger areas. But there are many ways through which this can be achieved. Here are the list of options:-

1. Apple Indoor Maps

2. Bluetooth Beacons

3. Compass Based Positioning

4. Bluetooth Ceiling Antennas

5. Visual recognition and SLAM systems

Positioning Systems Explained

Apple Indoor Maps

Apple’s uses their own Wi-Fi infrastructure for Indoor Positioning technology through its Maps and requires no additional hardware deployment. This technology achieves positioning with an accuracy maximum of a meter almost in indoor spaces. This is achieved by Apple through radio frequency (RF) patterns of Wi-Fi access points available in that area. This works very well in public areas with a lot of wifi access points in their network.

Bluetooth Beacons

Beacons are hardware transmitters - a class of Bluetooth low energy (LE) devices that broadcast their identifier to nearby portable electronic devices. They send Bluetooth signals, and are mounted on the wall or ceiling all over your location. They capture every feed from a distance of 10-20 meters (30-60 feet). Depending on the location of device and proximity of beacon, it calculates an estimated position of a user. Using beacons, you can estimate a position with an accuracy of 5-10 meters.

Bluetooth Ceiling Antennas

Directional Bluetooth antennas, also known as Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS), these industrial grade directional high speed bluteooth antennas provide optimized Bluetooth coverage in challenging environments such as subways, highways, smart grids, oil and gas fields and many more. They are generally mounted on the ceilings or pillar that helps you in real-time tracking of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tags, smartphones and tablets etc. These antennas capture every direction and angle of a radio signal transmitted by a tag to compute the tag’s position. Such installations are a bit more complex than standard beacons since every antenna is wired with network cables.

Compass Based Positioning

The compass has massive drifts indoors and is not that ideal for AR. Compass based positioning systems turn this disadvantage into an advantage. They measure the drift of a compass on certain positions and routes and use that for positioning. Users have to walk 10-30 meters to collect compass drift on multiple positions looking for a match with the collected data. Compass based systems provide an accuracy of around 5-10 meters which makes them almost as accurate as Bluetooth beacons, with the disadvantage that the user has to move around for a position. Ideally, you combine Bluetooth beacons with compass based drift.

Visual recognition and SLAM systems

Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) is the computational problem of building, recording or updating a map of an unknown environment while simultaneously keeping track of an agent's location within it. While this appears to be a chicken-and-egg problem but there are many algorithms now-a-days that resolves this issue, or atleast approximately, in tractable time for certain environments. It is also a technology allowing usage of autonomous vehicles that lets you build a map and localize your vehicle in that map at the same time.

Tracking Systems – Comparison Table

NameTypeAccuracySetup (1=easy, 5=hard)CostsUsabilityWorks /w ViewAR Tracking Fusion System
Bluetooth Beacons2D3-8m3$+++Y
Compass based2D5-10m4$$++Y
Apple Indoor Maps2D4-8m3$+Y
Ceiling Antennas2D10-50cm5$$$+++Y
Visual Recognition / SLAM3D/6DoF10-30cm4$$+Y
Markers / QR codes3D/6DoF5-15cm1$++Y

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