Personal Signage through Augmented Reality


Using the latest augmented reality for mobile devices, this is a pilot study aiming to create a private tour guide able to give directions specifically tailored to suit individuals.

Project Status:



HEIF Knowledge Transfer


University of Sheffield


3D interactive, mobile applications, software development


C++, fiducial markers, Java, mobile applications, OpenGL, path planning

Project Description

Imagine having a private tour-guide that would give you personalised directions to a meeting room, office or lecture theatre as you are navigating around and inside an unfamiliar series of buildings on campus, for example. Moreover, the information is tailored for students, visitors and staff, taking into account different access preferences (i.e. stairs, lifts, disabled access points, etc). Not only could point-to-point directions be given, but whole tours and journeys constructed. Using the latest augmented reality for mobile devices and fiducial markers placed at key locations, that is exactly what this project will deliver as a pilot study. Furthermore, this system will work equally well both indoors and outside because it doesn´t rely on GPS; all you need to do is download the corresponding “Sheffield University Navigation App” and let the passive fiducial markers guide the way.

To get directions, the user tells their camera-enabled handheld device where they are going, point it at any fiducial markers placed around the building (or campus) and on their screen, overlaid onto the real scene, will be animated virtual signposts showing them the way to their destination (also supported by audio); an animated character climbing the stairs could be used to depict that the user should ascend them as they traverse their route. The system could even display blockades/No Entry signs along paths that shouldn´t be taken and indeed any positive or negative animated visualisation can be used to aid navigation, which could even be customise for the seasons – why not have a light flutter of snow fall onto the signposts during winter? Adverts could also be placed below signage – “Take a load off at the Union´s Interval Café… want to know how to get there, press here”. No longer would you need static Way-Finder kiosk points that rely on you remembering your route, simply follow your handheld device and navigate using augmented reality signposts.

Dynamic signage is just one example of how this system could be used: reality could be augmented with changing artworks, or even “treasure hunts” where each marker gives you a clue to the next, thus following a pathway, but who knows what the next marker will show – you could even ask a question about the path the user has just taken and give an appropriate visualisation based on the correctness of their response (something more useful in a museum setting where you are reaching out to children by providing fun ways to learn and observe). This project will not only provide an infrastructure for piloting dynamic signage, but also provide a showcase for demonstrating to collaborators what is possible and also exploring the vast opportunities that augmented reality could offer.

Project Team

  • Dr Michael Meredith (Principal Investigator – University of Sheffield)
  • Keira Borrill (Research Associate – University of Sheffield)