HIIT researchers enhance maps with mobile phones

In the MapLens service, a mobile phone will compare a paper map to maps in its database, adding digital information to the area shown on the screen.

Map and a mobile phone

Have you ever looked at a bus stop map and wished it told you more? It may do just that in the future; even though the map on the wall will remain as silent as ever, you can get more information by photographing it with your mobile phone.

The Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) researchers and their partners have developed the MapLens service where a mobile phone compares a map on paper to maps in its database and then adding digital information to the area shown on screen.

"The real time information may consist of images, text and video", says Project Leader Ann Morrison of HIIT.

In addition to a simple street address, information on buildings, retail shops, sights and even roadworks can be obtained. Will we need paper maps at bus stops at all? In testing, the combination of a paper and mobile map was particularly suitable for people moving in groups.

"It was easier to negotiate the route looking at the large paper map than gathering around a tiny mobile phone display. A traditional mobile phone map better suits people who move alone", Morrison says.

In addition to the Helsinki University of Technology and the University of Helsinki, MapLens research partners included the Nokia Research Center and the universities of Cambridge and Oulu. The project received funding from the EU.

Text: Tapio Ollikainen
Photo: Maisa Puranen

Translation: AAC Noodi Oy

News of the month »»
News archive »»
University of Helsinki