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Guiding Light brings video game-style navigation to the real world

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An augmented reality app from MIT uses projected arrows to guide you to where you need to be.

Guiding Light
Guiding Light

In Dead Space players used futuristic augmented reality technology to navigate a derelict space station, plotting a beam of light along the ground — and now researchers at MIT's Media Lab are attempting to bring that same concept to the real world. The project involves an augmented reality app called Guiding Light that uses a smartphone with a projector to display relevant information to help you get around. For instance, if you're in an office building, you can search the app for the person you're looking for— or even scan their business card — and then project an arrow on the ground to guide you there. As you make your way to the destination the arrow will change, images of important points such as intersections will be displayed, and you can even point it at a door to see to who works in that particular office.

In order to use the app you'll also need to wear a small circuit board that comes packed with magnetic sensors, which recognize local disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field — caused by steel-structured buildings — to determine exactly where you are and which way you're facing. The system won't figure out the world on its own, though: you'll still need a database full of properly geo-tagged and labeled points of interest to get started. While currently in the early research stages (you can check out the full studies at our source links), who knows — Guiding Light could eventually become a killer app for a future generation of the Galaxy Beam.