By Tim Newman, Consumer Product Manager
For over a decade, OS has been active in the field of augmented reality – proving the concept back in 2006 with a thought-leading paper on Mobile Augmented Reality, and more recently prototyping 3D maps of Mars, and creating a navigation app for a Shoreditch basement. We’re now really excited to be using this augmented reality technology to introduce a new feature for OS Maps.
The recently released AR feature will help users learn about their surroundings by labelling and categorising the features around them, finally overcoming the big limitation of maps on mobile: the small screen. Have you ever looked out over a stunning vista and found yourself struggling to identify a hill or work out how far it was to the town below you? Now you can simply hold up your smartphone to find out what you’re looking at and how far away it is. If a place catches your interest, just tap on the label to find out more about it.
This fun and informative new feature was made possible by combining sensor data from the phone with OS data of over 200,000 hills, mountains, coastal features, lakes, settlements, transport hubs and areas of woodland. As a company of data experts, it’s fantastically rewarding to make use of our data to help make the outdoors more enjoyable, accessible and safe. This is what motivates the team and, combined with the great feedback we get from users, drives us to continue improving OS Maps – so keep your eyes peeled for the next bunch of features we’re working on to make it easier than ever to plan your time outdoors. There’s never been a better time to open up OS Maps and GetOutside!
To find out more about AR head to https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/ar/.
Stay tuned to the blog to learn from Layla Gordon in the tech labs team about how it works and the exciting projects that she’s developing with augmented reality.
Some of you may remember Rob Woodall, we shared his story in 2016 as he completed a 13-year mission to bag 6,190 trig pillars across Great Britain. Not content with that, Rob’s now added all 201 fundamental benchmarks (FBM – see photo below) to his haul. Rob fills us in on his challenge and talks about other OS survey marks he likes to bag along the way…
My first FBM was Wolsingham in lovely Weardale, in 2004. A group of us get together once a year, and that year the gathering was hosted by a couple who live in Wolsingham and they put together an itinerary which included trig pillars (my main interest at the time) and also mysterious things such as non-pillar flush brackets (NPFBs, which are FBs on structures other than pillars, such as houses, churches, bridges etc) – and the local fundamental benchmark. So I started ticking off NPFBs and FBMs too.
It’s taken 13 and a half years to bag 201 FBMs (including all but 6 of the destroyed ones – which I’ll get round to eventually) – coincidentally about the same time it took to bag 6,190 trig pillars – which is not great productivity. However, the last two were Patrington (which we all thought was destroyed until it turned up in 2016 when the householder took out a big laurel tree in their garden) – and Windsor Castle which we all assumed was out of bounds. Eventually a friend sent off a letter to the Royal Collection Trust to see if we could visit the FBM, and the answer was yes! – provided HRH was away at the time. So with no particular plan, I ended up finishing the list this year.
Did you know that OS Maps subscribers added over 400,000 routes to the service over the last 12 months? We’ve analysed the (almost) 400,000 public routes and found that Snowdon bags the top spot for most routes created.
We broke the country down into square kilometres and counted the number of routes passing through each square, and while Snowdon topped this list, the Edale area of the Peak District grabbed 6 of the top 10 spots, with the Lake District taking the remaining places.
Yes, there are 607 OS paper maps of Great Britain for you to choose from, but did you know there are also infinite Custom Made maps you can order? Tens of thousands of you have already put your Custom Made map orders in, creating enough map areas to cover the moon three times, an amazing 111.5 million km2 of Britain printed on your maps.
If you’re a regular blog reader, it will be no surprise to hear us talking about safety. We launched National Map Reading Week last year and talk about safety tips every single year. So you can imagine how dismayed we were to read this:
When you also know that Mountain Rescue England & Wales (MREW) attended 1,812 callouts last year, up 170 on 2015, and that 500 of those callouts were avoidable, and reasons include people getting lost…then you can see why we keep talking about safety.
We’ve teamed up with MREW to make the great outdoors more enjoyable, accessible and safe for all, by encouraging everyone to be more mindful and better prepared when heading outside. Why? Because MREW’s 2016 callout figures showed incidents to be up for the fourth year running. And our own survey of 2,000 outdoors enthusiasts revealed 76% of British recreational walkers and hikers do not properly plan their route or what to pack in preparation of their walk/hike.
Our talented Craft Club created the fantastic Great British Craftography Map, and it’s currently up for auction to raise money for Solent Mind, our corporate charity. The crafty individuals recreated the Ordnance Survey National Grid into a 2.2m by 1.2m wall hanging with the 91 tiles showcasing 16 different craft techniques. Each tile represents a notable subject from the area covered – it could be a geographical feature, a well-known landmark, a local food, or even a craft or material associated with the area.
Just for fun, we have a #CraftographyMap quiz to test your knowledge of Britain. We’ve picked ten of the crafty tiles – can you tell us which areas of Britain they represent? Bonus points if you know the corresponding National Grid tile reference too…
Guest blog by our Licensed Partner, A-Z Maps
A-Z Maps has been chosen as the official mapping partner to produce maps for the National Trails of England and Wales. There are 16 long distance paths that are official National Trails, covering some of the most stunning parts of the country. The official National Trail maps will be produced using the iconic OS 1:25,000 mapping data, familiar with those who have used the OS Explorer maps.
A-Z Adventure Series
A-Z has worked closely with OS for many years and the A-Z Adventure Series has been one of the successes of this partnership. The Adventure Series contains the detailed OS mapping, so loved by walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, in a convenient book format with an index to places of interest, towns, villages and features.
We relaunched our iconic road map series last September after a seven-year hiatus. The eight map sheets covering the whole of Great Britain were back by popular demand and it seems some of you are loving the bridge theme on the covers. Jo got in touch with our Customer Services team to ask about the bridge covers, so we thought we’d give you a quick run-down.
Looking ahead to New Year’s Resolutions for 2017? Trying to decide how to work off those Christmas calories? How about walking? Getting outside and walking in Britain is free, easy and accessible to most of us.
We’ve already seen 2016 prove to be a big year for the outdoor enthusiast with the nation either donning their running shoes or walking boots to #GetOutside.
With the year coming to an end we’ve taken a look back at the most popular destinations searched by walkers on our popular OS Maps online service. An amazing 1.4 million destination searches were carried out via our online version of OS Maps in 2016. So, where were people hoping to explore?