Let’s face it: Most of us rely on maps to get from point A to point Z multiple times per day as we race from one everyday task to the other. Now fast-forward to the near future: Imagine interacting with a map in AR that allows you to rotate and navigate in 3D with your hands, all while using the power of spatial visualization to truly understand where you’re going and how to get there. At this year’s GDC, the world’s largest annual gathering of game developers, Meta and Mapbox partnered to make this vision a near-future reality, demoing the Mapbox maps SDK for conference attendees on the Meta 2 headset.
According to Jim Martin, UX Engineer at Mapbox, the location data platform for mobile and web applications, the build was a no-brainer due to AR’s visualization and interaction benefits: “It’s natural to view and interact with 3D features like terrain and buildings on the Meta. Overlaying additional 3D spatial data, like weather or flight paths is where the real potential of the Meta shows through.”
Martin outlined 3 key reasons why the quick-and-dirty build could be created in about 5 hours over the course of one afternoon:
SDK Compatibility: Ready to get to work right away? According to Martin, “the Mapbox SDK and the Meta 2 SDK were compatible out-of-the-box, so it was really quick to start prototyping visuals and interactions by combining the components provided.”
Support for Rapid Iteration: “Being able to test the full functionality of my app in the Meta headset, with gesture recognition included, streamlined the development process; especially when exploring the Meta SDK for the first time.”
Map Size & Layers of Meaning: For devs who believe that combining maps with AR tech is a natural fit, the Meta 2 offers unique ease-of-use according to Martin: “Maps in the meta are unique because of their size and layers of meaning. Users might be thinking about the map in terms of the entire globe, a single city, or a single building, and these different perspectives affect how they expect gestures to work. Thinking about how to build gestural interactions that feel right on all those scales is an interesting challenge. Luckily, it was easy to tie into the gesture events with the meta SDK to prototype different solutions.”
According to David Oh, Head of Developer Relations at Meta, “Mapbox and Meta both offer Unity SDKs that allowed us to build an awesome GDC demo in literally 5 hours.” This partnership showcases one thing: The importance of working closely with developers to build awesome experiences. Imagine what we’ll be able to accomplish with more time and resources?”
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