Geospatial AR - Technology and Applications | MAGES Institute

Geospatial AR - Technology and Applications

Join us as we examine Geospatial AR, a combination of geographical data and visual positioning systems and augmented reality to deliver context-aware immersive experiences.

Spatial computing, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are terms synonymous with emerging tech. They’re typically perceived to be a figment of the future – something unattainable. That however, does not need to be the case! We now see a variety of use cases for these technologies (such as AR social media filters and VR games like Beat Saber) and with better and more accessible hardware, the use cases are only primed to grow.

One such example of an evolving use case is Geospatial AR : where geospatial data is used in conjunction with AR to create contextually relevant experiences.

In simple terms, it involves overlaying digital content (such as images, information, or 3D models) onto the real-world environment, seen through a device like a smartphone, tablet, or AR glasses, and aligning that content with specific locations in physical space.

An example of this would be pointing your phone at a recognizable landmark like the Eiffel Tower, have it recognize the landmark,through GPS or VPS data (more on this later), and augment information on the landmark.

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has used geospatial AR in the Visit Singapore Travel Guide app, enhancing the experience for travelers.

Key Components

Geospatial AR brings together two seemingly disparate technologies – Augmented Reality, and GPS or Global Positioning System combined with geospatial data :

  • Geospatial Data + GPS: This involves information about the Earth’s surface, typically represented as coordinates (latitude, longitude, and sometimes altitude). Geospatial data can include maps, satellite imagery, terrain data, and other location-based information, and constitutes the Visual Positioning System (VPS)
  • Augmented Reality: Computer-generated content is superimposed onto the real-world view, which can be achieved through devices like smartphones, tablets, or dedicated AR glasses.

Applications of Geospatial AR can include :

  • Navigation: Geospatial AR can enhance navigation applications by providing real-time directions, points of interest, and other relevant information overlaid onto the real-world view.
  • Tourism and Cultural Heritage: Users can explore historical sites, museums, and cultural heritage locations with augmented information about the significance of different points of interest.
    The Visit Singapore Travel guide app by Singapore Tourism Board is a perfect example – viewers can visit historical sites and landmarks and can instantly learn about their heritage through the app.
  • Real-time Data Overlays: With AR, users can access real-time geospatial data, such as live traffic updates, weather conditions. This information can significantly improve route planning and decision-making, making it invaluable for emergency response services.
  • Emergency Response: AR can assist emergency responders by providing real-time information about the environment, such as the location of hazards or the best routes for evacuation.
  • Gaming: Location-based AR games use geospatial data to create interactive gaming experiences that are tied to specific locations in the real world.

Adobe Aero – A no-code solution

Adobe Aero allows for creation of mobile AR experiences in a no-code environment, making it ideal for beginners. Users can create images/videos/3D objects to be augmented on the Adobe Aero desktop app, and can assign various behaviors and triggers for the augmentation.

The experience can then be shared with other Adobe Aero users via their mobile phone or tablets, and can even share screen recordings of the AR experience on social media.

When integrated with Google’s Geospatial Creator (a combination of Google Maps, Google’s Geospatial API, and ARCore), users can create and share immersive stories and experiences for places around the world.

Student Project – AR by the Bay

Our students Bay Rui Xiang, Justin Chan, Vince Foo and Wong Wei Heng from the Professional Certificate in XR Immersive program have created a geospatial AR experience around Gardens by the Bay for their Capstone Project module.


With an aim to enhance the tourist experience but overcoming the limitations of a 2D map which can be confusing at times.

Utilising the Lightship Augmented Reality Development Kit by Niantic (the developers of Pokemon Go), the students implemented a Visual Positioning System (VPS) which captures multiple images of the surroundings to determine the user’s current location using triangulation techniques, aided by GPS.

Users of the App are able to navigate through the Gardens making use of the directional pointers as a personal guide.

They can learn more at specific predefined points of interest such as latest information, upcoming events, upcoming attractions, and more.

For more such exciting projects and information about cutting edge emerging technologies covered in our Professional Certificate in XR Immersive Program, keep watching this space!

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