Augmented Reality Smartphone Compasses: Opportunity or Oxymoron?

Bowers, David (2019). Augmented Reality Smartphone Compasses: Opportunity or Oxymoron? In: Adjunct Proceedings of the 2019 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and the 2019 International Symposium on Wearable Computers (UbiComp/ISWC '19 Adjunct), 9-13 Sep 2019, London, ACM.



The development of augmented reality capabilities on smartphones has led to the emergence of a range of AR apps, including AR compasses. Some of these apps claim to be as good as professional magnetic navigation compasses, and suitable for navigation use. This poster presents detailed measurements of compass deviation (error) curves and offset errors for augmented reality compass apps on 17 mobile devices. The magnitude of the deviation errors measured casts serious doubt on claims the apps are appropriate for navigation purposes. This in turn emphasizes the need for the ubiquitous computing community to help ensure adequate awareness of the limitations of some onboard sensors, including compasses, on devices such as smartphones.

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