HERE Reality Lens is the next big thing in GIS


After a few years of writing about all the new, cool and futuristic stuff from the geo industry you don’t expect too much surprises. The “wow effect” happens to me a few time a year if I’m lucky and believe me… I search for something to stun me all the time. Recently I finally came across a new product that gave exactly the feeling I was waiting for and to my surprise it didn’t come from a cool Silicon Valley start-up but from one of the biggest mapping companies in the world.

Behind closed doors, HERE in cooperation with Esri is quietly developing a new service that might be the next big thing in GIS. HERE Reality Lens is integrating highly accurate data captured by hundreds of mapping vans directly with ArcGIS and your daily GIS tasks.

HERE Reality Lens - Geoawesomeness

How does it work?

HERE True mapping cars are surveying streets and roads around the world in order to provide Street View-like images which are mainly used for internal map making purposes. At a glance you can see only the 360 panoramic images but behind the scene the cars are also capturing millions of LiDAR data points. Overlaying this laser data layer on the top of the image makes it possible to add the third dimension to the image (so now every pixel can has X,Y,Z instead of just X,Y coordinates). When you combine it all with the car’s accurate positioning system you can actually georeference each of this points into geographic coordinates and create cartometric depth map.

HERE-Reality-Lens 3-Geoawesomeness

OK. But what it has to do with GIS?

Actually quite a lot. First of all it makes these Street View images fully cartometric and measurable. You can select two points on the image and measure the physical distance between them but you can also measure parameters like area, slope and much more. But there is also another part of the equation. It also allows for adding and visualising your data points on the top of the panoramic images. So it’s the first fully augmented reality GIS-ready service. Quite awesome. And everything is accessible as an add-on to ArcGIS!

HERE-Reality-Lens 4-Geoawesomeness

How it can be used in practice?

HERE Reality Lens is amazing and the potential of its applications is endless. It significantly reduces time and cost of gathering and reviewing spatial data for GIS, infrastructure asset management, engineering and enterprise applications. Cities can make decisions and actions faster as they don’t need to send a field workers or surveyors to every small reported case. Companies can optimise their processes and save costs.

HERE Reality Lens has a potential to disrupt the way we use GIS in so many areas. It’s really amazing. It’s is available as a beta trial and you can test it on ArcGIS online and desktop.

Aleks Buczkowski
I'm a professional always thinking outside the box and a self-confessed gadget addict. As a son of a professor of cartography I was surrounded by maps all my life and as a result spatial way of thinking and seeing reality is naturally embedded in who I am.
  • Michael Auer

    this really seems to be an awesome application. BUT: The screenshot suggests that the streetlamp is about 10m high. For me half the size would be plausible. Compared to the cars or bikes nearby it can never be that high. Any explanation for that?

    • Aleks Buczkowski

      Good eye! I guess that it’s just a matter of some marketing shortcuts. The service itself is awesome:).