The Buffer Zone

A network of 3D space at the edges of hazard areas. When AR users enter this Buffer, safety patterns are triggered to alert them of danger ahead.

At the core of this system are the zones outlined within our 3D maps of the city. These indicate the differential safety risks for the AR user, and how AR experiences can be responsive to the context of a particular zone. The most notable zone is the Buffer. Click on each zone to learn more.

Asset1 Zone1 Zone2 Zone3

The Safety Zone

Users in this zone are not putting themselves or people around them at any risk. AR experiences should feel free to utilize this space in whatever ways they like to create the most engaging experiences.

The Buffer: In Detail

The Buffer is the most important zone for street-smart AR applications. It is the region where AR applications can step in and alert users as they engage in experiences in public spaces.


The Buffer can actually be further separated into 2 regions: the Detection Buffer, and the Barrier Buffer. These regions are all marked out within the high-definition maps provided.

  • If the AR device enters the Detection Buffer, it activates the safety pattern. The device enters the region when it crosses the Detection Plane.
  • The User Position could be some distance behind the device position. A user holding their mobile device in front of them would be an arm’s length behind the device position.
  • The Barrier Buffer determines where the actual AR pattern appears. When the AR device enters the Detection Buffer, the AR pattern is triggered at the furthest edge of the Barrier Buffer.
Xsection diagram

Varying scales

The Buffer and its sub-zones vary in depth depending on where it is being applied.

A wide space should have a detection buffer of 4 to 5 feet, with a barrier buffer between 1 to 2 feet.

Wide sidewalk

A narrow sidewalk should have a minimum detection buffer of 2 feet, with the barrier buffer between 0.5 to 1.5 feet.

Narrow sidewalk

Wider Buffers for differing user orientation

If the user is backing towards the hazard zone, the Buffer should be more generous. This is because this orientation actually puts the user closer to the Hazard Zone than the AR device.

Beyond the sidewalk

The street curb is the most straightforward example where a distracted AR user could encounter hazards. But we encounter similar hazardous places elsewhere too. A good example is the NYC subway platform where the tracks are separated from the platform with a barrier. Other examples include flights of stairs which could send distracted users tumbling, or drops in level such as at a hilly lookout or the edge of a loading dock.


As we apply the buffer to broad swathes of public spaces, we emerge with high-definition 3D maps of the city that incorporate the buffer wherever it is necessary. This empowers AR applications to exhibit street-smartness wherever the user is.

Map buffers