ISTA Satellite Navigation AR App

Introduction

The ISTA Satellite Navigation AR app was developed on the occasion of the Munich Satellite Summit 2019. It is intended to demonstrate the symbiosis of the satellite navigation domain and augmented reality and to encourage further developments. It aims to provide the user with a basic understanding of the principles of GNSS.

The simplified model shows different GNSS with their satellites and orbits around a rotating earth. (The representations are not to scale.) These virtual objects can be superimposed on the camera image of a smartphone or tablet using the built-in AR engine.

The app was developed by Lindenvalley GmbH (https://www.lindenvalley-group.com) in Munich with the help of Unity, a 3D game engine and can be compiled with both Android and Apple iOS. There is also a version for the Microsoft HoloLens AR glasses available.

Figure 1: Earth with Galileo Satellite System

Functionalities

First, the model of the earth must be positioned in space. Some older AR engines require a horizontal plane (e.g. a table) as a reference surface. Then you can use the "Back" and "Next" buttons to switch on the various GNSS. As already mentioned, satellite models are shown for the Galileo GNSS.

If you don't want to see the satellite orbits, you can hide them with the "Hide" button. In order to move and scale the entire model virtually in space, there are the buttons "Up", "Down" (move up and down) and "Zoom +" or "Zoom -" (scaling). If you want to reposition the model in the room, you can press "Reload". When you press a Galileo satellite, its 3D model is shown in detail. (see Fig. 2)

Figure 2: Galileo Satellite Model

Figure 2: Galileo Satellite Model

Figure 3: Earth with multiple GNSS

How to compile/build this App?

The project can be found under

https://github.com/munich-satellite-navigation-summit/SatelliteNavigationARiOSApp  

on GitHub. The Unity IDE is required to open the project, edit it and compile it later. The project was developed and tested with version 2018.4.11f (Long Term Support). How to compile the project for Apple iOS or Android is described in detail under this link:

https://learn.unity.com/tutorial/building-for-mobile#5c7f8528edbc2a002053b4a2

 

Under iOS it is only possible to install a developer version of the app on iPhones or iPads, which is automatically deleted after 7 days. For permanent use, the app must be published in the Apple App Store.
For Android devices you can (as also described in the instructions) create an .apk file (Android Package Kit) that you can easily install (described below).

The already generated .apk file can be downloaded here:

https://github.com/munich-satellite-navigation-summit/SatelliteNavigationARiOSApp/blob/master/satellite_navigation_hololens_app_unity/Builds/SatelliteNavigation.apk

Install APK files on Android

Before you are allowed to install APK files on your Android device, you need to adjust some security settings:

  1. Open the settings on your device.

  2. Search for "Security" under "General" and open it.

  3. Now search for the "Unknown origin" (or "Unknown sources") option and activate it. Now you can install apps (APK files) that are not from the Play Store. 

  4. Installation of APK files

Once you have made this setting, you can continue with the installation:

  1. First you need to download the APK to your device. Alternatively, you can also transfer the APK file from the computer to your mobile device via USB cable.

  2. Now run the APK file by clicking on it. You can find the downloaded files under Download.

  3. Now you only have to confirm the installation once more and then the app will be installed.

 

Possible further developments

The prototype of an AR app presented here is intended to promote further developments. Some possible additions / changes would be conceivable:

  • implement real orbits with correct scale

  • generate 3D-Modells for all GNSS

  • show real-time position of satellites and show real position on earth surface

  • only show satellites, which are received by the device

  • detailed information for every individual satellite

© 2020 by Munich Satellite Navigation Summit