Menu
App uses 'augmented reality' to point way to Japan's elusive free Wi-Fi

App uses 'augmented reality' to point way to Japan's elusive free Wi-Fi

Navigating by augmented reality can be useful in dense cities like Tokyo

This screenshot from Navitime for Japan Travel shows the augmented reality function pointing the way to free Wi-Fi at Starbucks, tucked behind the buildings on the right.

This screenshot from Navitime for Japan Travel shows the augmented reality function pointing the way to free Wi-Fi at Starbucks, tucked behind the buildings on the right.

Telecom carrier NTT and navigation service developer Navitime Japan are trying to make free Wi-Fi in Japan easier to find with an app featuring augmented reality (AR) guidance.

Navitime for Japan Travel, available for free for iOS and Android devices, allows users to find the nearest free Wi-Fi providers through an offline search using location data. It also displays the locations of other facilities such as restaurants and tourist attractions.

AR refers to technologies in which a live view of the environment is layered with graphics, text or other data. Typically they involve layering mapping information over live footage from a smartphone camera.

With Navitime for Japan Travel, users hold up the screen to their surroundings, hit "look in AR mode" and footage from the device's camera will be overlaid with the distance to a destination and an arrow pointing the way.

But the app can be unreliable as an AR guide. Not only can you suddenly find yourself getting farther away from a destination when trying to approach it, your device can easily lose its location signal.

Where AR can work well is in dense urban settings where a tall building can house dozens of shops and none of them has a sign in English. When close enough to the destination, Navitime for Japan Travel can help users distinguish the right building and business where there's free Wi-Fi.

There are tens of thousands of free Wi-Fi spots that travelers can find through the app, most of which are Hikari Station LANs run by NTT East, which require registration. NTT East is a regional subsidiary of NTT.

The app was developed to help visitors who have trouble getting online for free in Japan. Free Wi-Fi can be hard to find even in a metropolis like Tokyo.

"In general, we acknowledge that there is a lot of discussion of there being much fewer free Wi-Fi spots in Japan compared to other countries, but as a telecommunications operator, we are not in the position to comment on this situation or its causes," said Yuri Murase, a representative of NTT East's New Business Development Headquarters.

"As for the Hikari Station public wireless LAN access point service provided by our company, as of January 2014 there are around 40,000 shops and facilities that have it. By continuing to expand the number of access points, we will contribute to improving the convenience of international tourists visiting Japan."

The app also covers the locations of some 10,000 Freespot free Wi-Fi services provided by Buffalo, the storage and peripherals maker, and 1,000 Starbucks coffee shops with free Wi-Fi.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetInternet-based applications and servicesNTTNavitime Japan

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments