Mobile Augmented Reality Application (MARA) System for Navigation, Learning and Campus Safety

Current Students: James Stigall

Past Students: Usha Govindaraju, Pranay Rajeev, Dexter Ballerda and Diliorah Arah

Status: Current

Augmented Reality (AR) is a relatively new technology that blends real-world data and computer-generated graphics in real time, blurring the line between reality and virtual by enhancing what we perceive. It opens a whole lot of possibilities in many fields, from medical to engineering, including evacuation, navigation, network security, and learning.


Project 1: Mobile Augmented Reality Application for Building Evacuation Using Intelligent Signs


Motivated by augmented reality's educational use and mobile technology's ubiquitous presence, an Android-based mobile augmented reality application (MARA) was developed to show people how to evacuate the Computer Science Building at Bowie State University. The application was implemented for Android-based systems using Unity3D and Vuforia.  By featuring intelligent signs acting as visual aids, it promises to be effective at helping users determine and visualize the best path to the nearest exit. For future work, we plan to integrate capabilities to detect the user’s location in real-time so that the user can find his or her location relative to the nearest exit.  This could be achieved by triangulating a person’s position through base routers as GPS is not available inside the building. We are currently conducting user study for the MARA to determine how effective the intelligent signs are to users.

The MARA features four different intelligent signs to help the users determine where the exits are throughout the building and their evacuation path to those exits. 

  1. Blinking Exit Signs: These are signs in the environment with the wording “Exit Here!!!” shown in red letters.  These signs are placed at each exit door in the building. 
  2. Blue Arrows: On each floor, there are blue arrows placed on the floor.  The purpose for the arrows are to indicate the paths towards each exit. 
  3. Photo References: Real-life photos were taken at key points along each floor. 
  4. Moving Doors: The moving doors are the green bars indicating the major doorways on each floor that the user will go through to get towards the exit. These could also be used to indicate were the exits are.

  the floor with all intelligent signs visible with the buttons in the foreground and the marker in the background the first floor without the exit signs
  the first floor without the photo references Fire and smoke in the building
  Models superimposed on of their respective markers in Unity3D The MARA in use
  Stigall, J., Sharma, S, "Mobile Augmented Reality Application for Building Evacuation Using Intelligent Signs", proceedings of ISCA 26th International Conference on Software Engineering and Data Engineering (SEDE-2017), pp. 19-24, San Diego,CA, USA, October 2-4, 2017.
  Marker 1 Marker 2 Marker 3  

Project 2: M-Evac: Using ARToolkit to create an emergency response system for library evacuation


M-Evac is a AR application that allows you to view the 3D augmented reality scenes. 3D models are overlaid on the real world as seen through a mobile or computer’s webcam, making them appear to part of the surrounding real environment. M-Evac uses marker-based camera tracking such that the 3D models appear attached to physical printed markers. We show how the application is able to display a 3D model of the building using markers and web camera. The system gives a visual representation of a library building in 3D space, allowing people to see where exits are in the building through the use of a smart phone. M-Evac is a Mobile Augmented Reality Application (MARA). The MARA will enale enable policymakers and first-responders to evaluate evacuation strategies and mobile device usage during evacuations. With Open Source library ARToolKit, one can detect a marker from an input image and calculate the camera position in 3D space. M-Evac will supports the following features:

• scaling models
• loading 3d models in the android mobile
• positioning models relative to real markers
• user customizable tracking patterns
• windowed or full screen viewing model
• support for a variety of camera image resolutions

  Floor 1 Floor 2 Floor 3 Marker 1 Marker 2 Marker 3
  Animation of people evacuating from the BSU Library 3D display of people evacuating the Library using marker and android tablet or phone (samsung GIII)

Fire and smoke while people are evacuating the BSU library building

  Android App Android App in development for Bowie State University Campus

Project 3: Augmented Reality Sytem for Navigation and Learning for Campus Safety

Area: Network Middleware, Location Based System, Mobile network, Security and Privacy for AR Systems

The proposed systems will use GPS data to generate a geo-spatial representation of the university campus environment that can be navigated and manipulated through augmented reality. Users can manipulate ARToolKit markers augmented by 3D BSU campus map with tagged locations containing images, 3d models, video, audio, and text. Our proposed solution would include putting the markers at key spots in the building, such that the user can use their smart phones to view the 3D representation of the building and exits. We are integrating GPS, google maps, video to be integrated into the system. We propose to do the following:

  • Developing a network middleware for Mobile Augmented Reality Application (MARA) that can be applied to the area of large scale campus safety application.
  • Developing a Location Based Augmenetd Reality System (LBARS) for navigation and learning on campus. The proposed location based surveillance system will provide customized real-time information by incorporating decision-making strategies to guide people during emergencies. Incorporate special instructions based on external threat condition like smoke, biohazard for the safety of occupants.
  • Develop Security and Privacy for the MARA Systems. Devices providing immersive feedback can be used by malicious applications to deceive users about the real world.
  • Decision Support System: The proposed tool will recommend occupants regarding the various safety measures to avoid the threat and give customized real-time evacuation communication plan for the course of action to be taken by each user to reach a safe location.
    BSU Map

[Acknowledgement:This study is supported, in part, by National Science Foundation, Award HRD‐1137541 and Award Number: HRD-1238784]


  • Stigall, J., Sharma, S, "Mobile Augmented Reality Application for Building Evacuation Using Intelligent Signs", proceedings of ISCA 26th International Conference on Software Engineering and Data Engineering (SEDE-2017), pp. 19-24, San Diego,CA, USA, October 2-4, 2017.
  • Sharma, S, Jerripothula, S., "An indoor augmented reality mobile application for simulation of building evacuation", proceedings of SPIE conference on the Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality 2015, paper 9392-7, San Francisco, CA, USA, 9 - 10 February 2015.