As exciting as exploring an unknown territory may be, it can also pose some challenges. Many, in fact. Thankfully, a new wave of augmented reality infused wayfinding apps are popping up, providing consumers with an efficient way to find their way around, just about anywhere whether it’s at a hospital, airport, concert venue or looking for your car at a shopping mall. By holding their mobile devices, the apps are navigating you through places that have been traditionally tough to navigate, eliminating the stress of senseless wandering.

What is Wayfinding?

Wayfinding comprises all the ways in which individuals position themselves within a physical space or find their way between two points. It is of particular importance and therefore a valuable asset when one is attempting to orient themselves in complexly built environments, such as healthcare facilities, college campuses, airports and shopping centers. As architectural sites become more intricate, aids such as maps, directions and symbols to help with destination guidance are a must have.

Traditionally the main tools for wayfinding have been signs or maps that points people in the proper direction. While these are helpful they are not the most efficient tool to get a person from the entrance of a hospital to a specific waiting area or from one stage to another at a music festival. With the advancements in bluetooth beacons and phone hardware, creating augmented reality wayfinding experiences is the future of wayfinding.

Augmented Reality Wayfinding

AR is being used as a major enhancement element in wayfinding, to highly favorable reviews from both the industry and the end users. The accolades seem justified due to the dramatic advancements in hardware. Customers can now be guided through a store with directional prompts overlaid onto the real-world setting to navigate them through the most efficient route. The AR system can also be used in more complex scenarios, such as finding a way to a airport restaurant or even a specific bed in a medical facility complex, where your starting point is the entrance.

A person can walk into a completely unfamiliar environment to them, where they have no prior knowledge nor information associated with the particular arrangement of a facility. Using an app on their iPad or iPhone, they can be notified about specific objects and take an interactive tour of this environment from anywhere and also, navigate themselves all the way to their destination.

AR boosts the effectiveness of navigation devices by not only displaying destination directions and the trip length but also alerts to possible hazards that the user may encounter on their path.

Augmented Reality at the Airport 

A UK founded indoor navigation startup has obtained a $104,140 contract to test Bluetooth location tracking in US airports, where tiny beacons are installed around a venue which smartphones can pick up for navigation purposes, where normal GPS systems may be lacking. In London, Pointr has already been installed in numerous locations, including Gatwick Airport, allowing users who download the app to locate directions via arrows that appear on the floor, leading them to their desired location or a product.

Another project that is aiming to drastically upgrade Europe’s air traffic management is RETINA. By leveraging AR technology, they are looking to provide airport control tower staff with tools that enable them to tackle the constant difficult and busy conditions they’re faced with in a safer and more efficient manner.

Augmented Reality to find Your Car

Ever have difficulty in a parking garage trying to find your car and end up searching for hours? Augmented Reality can be used in conjunction with bluetooth beacons to get directions to your vehicle. An app can be used to locate your car and is not limited to just lost cars but can be used to find your way to essentially anything you need to find your way to – or back to.

Augmented Reality at Concerts 

A company called Neon has created an app, titled the same, which allows users to leave 3D AR messages, allowing them to map their location. The mapping system searches for your contacts around you, promising to locate a friend that may have gotten lost in a concert or music festival crowd. Essentially, you’d simply need to tap the person you are trying to locate and you’d be able to see how many meters away from you your lost friend is, followed by an appearance of an arrow that would lead you to them. Especially at noisey concert venues where it is hard to make phone calls or get service, this tool can provide people comfort that even if you get separated from your group, they have a way of finding you.


Pairing AR with tracking and sensing technologies have a transformative potential in the many venues of application. Since  mobile devices carry the ability to transfer contextual information, the integration of AR carries both evolving and wide use qualities. Seems like a no brainer to use AR instead of or conjunction with tradition forms of navigation.