Ever had problems with your sat nav where you’ve missed a turning because the directions weren’t clear, whether via the audio or confusing screen image? Well, augmented reality (AR) startup Phiar (pronounced ‘Fire’), is developing its own smartphone navigation system to combat just those problems, recently securing $3 million USD in funding to aid development.
The idea behind the Phiar system is to make using satellite navigation easier and safer, so drivers don’t have to work out what the map is telling them whilst driving.
“The idea came after taking too many wrong turns on the streets of Boston,” explains Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Chen-Ping Yu in a statement. “Trying to interpret directions from a two-dimensional map, especially at high speeds, is as difficult as it is dangerous. Navigation should be convenient and straightforward, and what we’re building is going to help people get to their destination faster and safer.”
Drivers will be able to download the app onto their smartphone then secure the device to their dashboard or windscreen for easy viewing. The app then augments the actual world in front of them for straightforward navigation.
“We want our users to keep their eyes on the road, looking at the real world rather than a 2D rendering of it,” says Ivy Li, Phiar Co-founder and CTO. “What makes the experience so unique is the live AR path overlays, made possible by our super-efficient computer vision and deep learning AI that runs on your smartphone. This augments your surroundings rather than distracting you from them.”
Phiar formed during a Y Combinator in early 2018 to solve directional and safety issues experienced by users of traditional two-dimensional navigation systems. The recent seed round was co-led by the Venture Reality Fund and Norwest Venture Partners, with additional participation from Anorak Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Zeno Ventures, Cross Culture Ventures, GFR Fund, Y Combinator, Innolinks Ventures and Half Court Ventures.