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Mixare Video Explains Mobile Compass Accuracy Issues

Submitted by on Thursday, 1 April 20102 Comments

If you have ever used an augmented reality location browser on your mobile phone to find interesting points in your local area, you’ll have no doubt noted that it’s not 100% accurate with the positioning and the points of interest never appear exactly on top of the target like they do in the developers promotional video.

Never as accurate as this

Never as accurate as this

I sent my brother-in-law who is a London Taxi driver out with Layar and Wikitude and asked him to use them both for a day. While he loved them, after a bit he constantly complained that the applications were reporting incorrect locations, and the locations would jump around, sometimes being in front of him, and other times were appearing behind him.

Of course the problem is not with the augmented reality applications which take advantage of the phones in-built compass, but rather with the phones compass itself.

It may come as a surprise too many of you that the accuracy of the compass differs between models of devices, the accuracy is also affected by objects that are placed next to the device, even whether or not the keyboard is open. (I didn’t know about that one). You try explaining to a user that their £300 phone is not accurate and it’s not the software.

3 different readings, so which is it?

3 different readings, so which is it?

Fortunately after failing to convince my brother-in-law where the problem lies, Daniele at Peer Internet Solutions has put together a great video showing the problem and the differences across several device. It’s interesting if you are building augmented reality applications and wondering why you are not getting the accuracy you were expecting, or if you’re trying to convince a stubborn brother-in–law that going camping and taking nothing but a pen knife and an iPhone for navigation is not a good idea.

Peer Internet Solutions have an open source augmented reality engine called Mixare, which is available for the Google Android and soon for the iPhone. Take a look at their website for more info and check out their compass accuracy report below.

Daniele shows some compass issues (at the Peer-office in South Tyrol)

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