News: This Winter Olympics App Will Use Augmented Reality to Help Fans Navigate PyeongChang 2018

This Winter Olympics App Will Use Augmented Reality to Help Fans Navigate PyeongChang 2018

If navigating a new city for a sporting event, such as the upcoming Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a daunting task, then making your way through a foreign country to a series of venues may seem like an impossible mission.

To alleviate the burden, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is turning to augmented reality to assist visitors to Pyeongchang, South Korea for the Winter Olympic and Paraolympic Games in February.

Image by PyeongChang 2018/YouTube

The AR Ways app for iOS and Android uses augmented reality navigation guidance along with voice prompts to help visitors make their way to various destinations around the city.

As soon as visitors arrive at one of the three airports in South Korea, the app can guide them by foot to the train station, where they will ride to Pyeoungchang via light rail. Once at the Olympic Village, the app can direct users to the various sporting venues, where they can obtain further instructions on how to get to their seats.

Image by PyeongChang 2018/YouTube

For the Super Bowl, ticket vendor StubHub is helping its customers by giving them a tabletop-style AR view of the US Bank Stadium and its immediate surroundings, but stopped short of providing AR navigation. In the case of this year's Winter Olympics—a much larger event in terms of scale, duration, and attendees—such an approach wouldn't suffice in terms of helping visitors get to where they need to go.

It's not clear exactly what kind of AR implementation the developers are using in terms of directing users (we've reached out to the developer to confirm). Nevertheless, this kind of AR navigation app requires more precision than GPS in order to track the user's position in relation to points of interest. Therefore, considering the background of the app developer, HanaMicron, it's possible that the app leverages a beacon system to improve location accuracy. This kind of infrastructure would be more feasible for a multi-week event rather than a one-time football game. Moreover, the app's description notes that the AR functions are only available in certain locations.

But regardless of how the AR technology was implemented, the app promises to be an invaluable tool for fans making the journey to witness the latest edition of the Olympic Winter Games.

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Cover image via PyeongChang 2018/YouTube

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