hiker using augmented reality glasses to explore outdoors and nature

Augmented Reality Outdoor Apps to Wrap Summer

It’s not too late to get outdoors and enjoy the last few weeks of summer. And in 2020, enjoying the simple beauty of a landscape or a lush forest has a new level of importance for many. Augmented Reality Outdoor apps make it easier and safer than ever to roam a bit outside your comfort zone. And in the era of social distancing, staying outdoors – yet away from busy Instagram backdrops – is a wise decision.


We want to help you find the motivation you need to try something new, go somewhere unexplored, and to do it with the magic of spatial computing in your pocket. Whether you’re adventuring for an afternoon or escaping reality for a week or more, AR can be your ally … and the inspiration for a totally new viewpoint.


Natural Tech Not an Oxymoron


When you enjoy a nature walk, technology is probably the last thing on your mind. And while some people say that computing has no place in the natural world, we think quite the opposite. Your smart devices can be a mechanism for learning about geography and biology, navigating wild spaces safely, and keeping an eye on the weather.


Today’s Augmented Reality Outdoor tools add new dimensions to topographic maps, star charts, plant encyclopedias like PlantSnap, and much more. Many of these products are cleverly equipped with downloadable content that anticipates usage outside standard cellular service networks.


The best part about each and every outdoor activity enhanced by AR is that it reduces contact with everything else. Using your smart device to manage your adventure means you don’t have to pick something up to inspect it. If you’ve started worrying about touching even the trees on the trail, it could add extra peace of mind to an excursion.


Geography via Augmented Reality


Huge numbers of new localists and staycationers are finding amazing outdoor experiences in their own regional back yards – all at the same time. Are you dreading that moment when you realized the park or trail you picked was on everyone else’s list too?


When you find yourself in a full parking lot or start to notice that your trail feels a bit crowded, wouldn’t you like to be able to check on plan B before you get back in the car? Be ready to pivot on a moment’s notice with detailed AR map apps.


Geographic AR is great for remote adventures too. Have you ever passed through a mountain range and wondered what peaks you’re near? How about the name of a waterfall or river? AR apps like ViewRanger and PeakVisor can help you navigate your outdoor experience with detailed geographic information. Information like this is bound to add a layer of value to any outdoor-oriented adventure.


ViewRanger app is used to explore outdoors and navigate

Image Credit: ViewRanger App


Observing the Night Sky


Today’s Augmented Reality Outdoor apps include a variety of astronomy-oriented tools that can help you identify constellations, planets, and celestial events. You’ll find a generous round-up of stargazing options for just about any device. Most come with more than just text labels. And in the case of tiny specs of light, this is really helpful. Whether you want the dots connected to form a zodiac sign or an artist’s rendering of Venus, you won’t run out of entertainment until you swipe up.


Star chart and planet identification apps add another layer of educational fun to a nighttime outing or a camping trip. You can enjoy them from home as well by just stepping out onto your balcony. So, the learning that starts outdoors can come home for more exploration later.


Augmented Reality & Adventuring


If you’re familiar with the practice of Geocaching, you’ll be excited to hear that the official geocaching.com website outlines a plan in the works to add an AR app to the system. While it says the project is on hold, we can see huge potential for adding a digital reward to every box of goodies unearthed. In the era of touching as little as possible, finding a contactless treasure chest is a win in our eyes.


From schools to Scouts, many groups around the world already incorporate Geocaching into their activities. As these organizations struggle to reconstruct a calendar of outings that keep all participants safe and healthy, while adhering to new rules and regulations, we hope that an Augmented Reality Outdoor tool is a solution that gets them closer to a new normal.


Geocaching can be fun for groups as small as a single-family – or even a solo adventurer. And when you’re looking for new things to do that don’t bring in new people, another option is always welcome.


Augmented Outdoors for Mental & Physical Health


Staying active is important day in, and day out. And we think one silver lining of the limitations brought on by pandemic conditions is the overall uptick in walking, hiking, and appreciation of nature for the sake of relaxation. Augmented Reality technology has long had a subset of fitness and wellness apps – which can be fantastic when you’re trapped indoors.


However, we think you can combine motion and step-tracking tech with wellness tools to craft an outdoor experience than can ‘recharge’ your soul more effectively than ever.


If meditation is one of your reasons for exploring the natural world, take a clever app like Healium AR with you. This innovative neurofeedback tool, specific to the Apple Watch, monitors your brain activity to produce a visual representation of your state of mind. The app tracks and analyzes your heartbeat to generate exercises designed to reduce anxiety and enhance calm.


Healium AR is a neurofeedback tool used for guided meditation

Image Credit: Healium AR


Outdoor Safety through Augmented Reality


So, we know that people who want to take an outdoor vacation or plan a day trip are sometimes going to choose options like wilderness adventures even if they aren’t experienced with outdoor living.


In 2020, where many regions have attractive all-terrain activities – and very little else to offer during shutdowns and phased reopenings – there has been a dramatic rise in the number of ‘green’ outdoor enthusiasts. If past incidents are reliable indicators, many of those people are going to get into trouble quickly if they don’t have at least basic tools.


If you think you might get injured, lost, and/or trapped by weather (or wildlife!) then an Augmented Reality Outdoor product is your best friend. Do your research and choose products specific to your region, which are also up-to-date. Choose staples like a reliable map and accurate weather. Check to make sure your flashlight is working too.


Experiencing the Outdoors through Virtual Reality


On the subject of exploring nature and having outdoor adventures, it’s relevant to also take a quick look at the VR side of things before we wrap this topic.


We mentioned that, regardless of the removal of international tourists, visiting prime natural sites – like Whistler or Banff here in Western Canada – is still fraught with traffic control issues. But Parks Canada already has you covered. Immerse yourself in their 360-degree footage of some prime Banff views.


National Geographic will help you tour Indonesia’s coral reefs, Iceland’s glaciers, and Canada’s rivers, all from the comfort of your living room via high-quality fresh 360-degree footage.



Activities like mountain biking can be highly realistic – complete with crazy daredevil levels of virtual risk – with products like Ride Out. You can tell from the language bleeped over in the video below that these participants got jump scares aplenty during their rides.



Augmented Reality Specialists


At Stambol, we love both the outdoors and the world of AR. We take full advantage of the forest and mountain excursions available to everyone living here on Canada’s West Coast. And our AR products are some of the best in the business, from lively promotional material to architectural proposals.


So, we’re here for just about any project that merges these two loves. Stambol visionaries have the real-world experience – with tech and nature – to work with anyone interested in fusing the raw beauty of our planet with the science of spatial computing. Just ask us what we can build for your business.


Feature Image Credit: tinyakov / Adobe Stock