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Augmented Reality Direction Grid With Compass Ball

Application Name: Compass Ball

Description: Overlays a compass direction grid on top of a live camera view.

Publisher’s website: jthuniverse

Cost: Free

Version/date reviewed: v.1.3.2  /  12-12-10

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2


Android Market link (mobile app only)
Android Market link (browser)


Figure 1: Compass Ball is a one-trick pony; it overlays a grid representing compass directions on top of the screen view generated by your camera. The picture at left is from the app page, to give you a general idea of the view it creates; screenshots from my Android phone don’t include the camera view.


Figure 2: The grid can be viewed in either portrait or landscape view; I think landscape is usually a better choice, because you get a wider view.

Other issues: Generally works well, but there are a couple of quirks.

  • It may take the grid a few seconds to show up on-screen, so be patient.
  • The app uses magnetic direction, rather than true direction; you’ll have to manually/mentally adjust for the magnetic declination in your area, the offset between true north and magnetic north.
  • The display can get stuck in an entirely incorrect direction reading. If you “wobble” the phone around, rocking it both left/right and back/forth at the same time, this seems to get the grid to move to the correct orientation.
  • It can take the grid a few seconds to drift into the right position, especially when you change directions.

Final thoughts: Cool little app, nice for finding the general azimuth angle distance between features. The option to set the grid to true north, rather than just magnetic north, would make it even more useful.

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