This week we were honoured to welcome Layla Gordon, computer scientist and lead of the Ordnance Survey future development team. She focused her talk on the topics of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) here summarized with the term of Geo Immersive Reality (GIR). In recent years, GIR has risen as an important topic for futuristic developments of soft- and hardware. Through strong processing power in standard mobile devices combined with modern location techniques, apps have been designed which enable the user an overlay of web-based information on their reality. The reality has become a mixed reality. Such overlay could be used in multiple scenarios. Layla presented several OS applications, which allowed for instance the overlay of underground pipes on a road, relating to the particular position of the user, or indoor story telling in historical buildings through triangulation via Bluetooth beacons. This use-case could also be helpful for fast orientation in large buildings, like hospitals. According to a survey presented by the speaker, a major amount of hospital staff could benefit from such navigation systems as they are often part-time employees or ‘on loan’ from other hospitals and therefore not familiar with the local geography. In such circumstances, an indoor-navigation application could be a life-saver. Furthermore, Layla showed further developments in combination with holo-lenses, which would allow the use of AR in our daily life. For now, holo-lenses are still too expensive and massive and are therefore not ready for the mass market, but future developments could enable a massive presence of Holograms for multiple purposes. Booking an uber car by clicking on it while it drives by or standing literally in the model of a complex building which has been planned are just a few examples for the immense possibilities of this technology. Education could benefit massively as well from virtual reality, as students could be prompted into an artificial environment with which they could interact and learn. This has been done already by the Ordnance Survey receiving great feedback from their students as Layla showed. Summarizing, this week’s talk was a delightful journey to future technologies, raising the curiosity of the auditorium towards endless possibilities and leaving us all with many questions and thoughts to think about.
MSc Geographical Information Science