Introduction - what is Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (or AR) means changing a normal view with additional information ('augmenting'). ShowMeHills takes the camera view of a mobile phone and superimposes the names of mountains and hills. Each peak can show its name, height, distance and bearing, all happening in real time.
How ShowMeHills superimposes mountain names
The peak information is overlayed using readings from the phone's GPS location (so it knows where you're looking from), and the phone's compass bearing (so it knows where you're looking). Knowing where to put the labels is therefore is extremely dependent on those readings (the application doesn't do any image recognitions of the hills you're seeing, it just knows what should be in that particular direction). If either the GPS or compass are inaccurate then the names will appear in the wrong positions. Since the compass on many handsets is very unreliable this can prove frustrating - the application does have the feature to offset the bearing of the compass which can help, and doing the figure of 8 compass calibration can help as well.
What can you see
The application now has 97,000 peaks and hills in the database. The data is taken from the excellent British Hills database and OpenStreetMap. The British Hills database is very detailed and comprehensive so the UK tends to have much better coverage than the rest of the world. In many cases peaks taken from the OpenStreetMap lack height values, but hopefully this will improve in the future.
While using the camera view you don't need internet access, but if you switch to the Google map view you'll need it for the maps.
Where can I get the app
The app has been uploaded to Google Play here (or search for ShowMeHills on Play Store on your phone). You can also get the source code from here and build it yourself (it's all open source and free!).
New! For UK users we've created a version just for you! This means a smaller database and smaller download, so maybe useful for phone with limited storage.
This is a free open source application released under the GPLv3 license, and developers are welcome to contribute. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Showmehills application requires your permission to use the network and camera capabilities of your phone. It does not store or transmit any images captured by the camera (the camera only provides the view on the screen). Network is used to provide additional information on hills and map overlay views (from Google maps). Anonymised analytics data is transmitted from the application using Google Analytics. No additional personal data is captured by the device.