Theodolite AR Viewfinder App Updated With Gyro-Compass Fusion

September 21, 2010 in Navigation (E)

[] Williamsburg Virginia - Hunter Research and Technology today released Theodolite 2.1 on the iTunes App Store. This novel multi-function augmented reality viewfinder app serves as a compass, GPS, map, zoom camera, rangefinder, and two-axis inclinometer. Theodolite became the #1 selling navigation app in the US and UK App Stores in December 2009 after being featured by Apple in the New and Noteworthy category of the iTunes App Store, and broke into the Top 40 Paid Apps ranking in the US and Top 20 in the UK.

Based on the concept of a centuries-old astronomical instrument, Theodolite overlays real-time information about position, altitude, bearing, range, and horizontal/vertical inclination on the iPhone's live camera image, turning the iPhone into a sophisticated electronic viewfinder. Theodolite lets users take geo-stamped camera images directly from the app with 2X and 4X digital zoom options, and contains a built-in map with standard, satellite, and hybrid views. Uses are endless, and the app is great for navigation, outdoor sports, home projects, and photography. Theodolite is used in the field by surveyors, geologists, architects, engineers, military personnel, competitive sportsmen, and search and rescue workers around the world.

Theodolite comes in three versions - Free, Basic, and Pro - to cover a range of customer needs. The flagship Theodolite Pro includes features for serious users, such as a zero reference angle mode, an A-B calculator for height, distance, heading, position, triangulation, and relative angles, e-mail export with KML data, system-wide clipboard integration, percent grade display, optical rangefinders, military grid reference system (MGRS) coordinates, universal transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates, and four latitude/longitude formats.

Version 2.1 of Theodolite adds numerous features requested by users, including a rotating compass rose map overlay, the banded UTM position format, and a NATO mil readout on the compass. But the major new feature in Theodolite 2.1 is an advanced "fusion" algorithm that combines gyro and magnetometer data on the iPhone 4. This approach uses dynamic gyro data to compute azimuth and bearing when the device is being positioned and aimed, and reverts to steady-state magnetometer data when the device becomes stationary. In situations where magnetic interference is detected, the gyro alone is used. This fusion approach provides a more accurate, more responsive, and more robust compass measurement that automatically corrects for gyro drift and minimizes effects of magnetic interference.

By simultaneously using the iPhone 4's three-axis gyro and three-component magnetometer, Theodolite 2.1 is able to provide stable compass bearing to any landmarks visible in the camera viewfinder, regardless of how the user holds or points the device. This provides a significant increase in utility over traditional palm held compasses and compass apps. Though the iPhone 3GS does not have a gyro, it too benefits from a new compass fusion algorithm in Theodolite 2.1, with a compass readout that makes use of the device accelerometer for stable positioning.

With these new capabilities, Theodolite continues its role as a technology demonstrator app, showcasing the latest and greatest in iOS hardware and software capabilities.

Pricing and Availability:
As the name suggests, the demo version "Theodolite Free" is available for free on the iTunes App Store. The mid level "Theodolite Basic" costs $1.99 (USD), and the full featured "Theodolite Pro" is $3.99. The apps run on iPhones with OS 4.0 or later, and will also run on the newly announced 4th-generation iPod touch (iPhone 3GS or 4 required for compass). More information, including screenshots, is available on the Hunter Research and Technology website. Media professionals interested in reviewing Theodolite can request a promotional code to download the apps from iTunes at no cost.

Hunter Research and Technology is run by Dr. Craig Hunter, a practicing engineer with 20 years of experience in engineering and software development. Craig received the 2004 NASA Software of the Year Award and a 2004 Apple Design Award (Best Scientific Computing Solution on Mac OS X) for his work in software development. He founded Hunter Research and Technology in 2008 to create innovative and compelling apps that take advantage of the advanced hardware and software capabilities of iOS devices. The company has 15 apps available on the iTunes App Store, and develops apps for a range of clients worldwide. iTunes, iPhone, iPod, and Retina display are registered trademarks of Apple Computer Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.


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