AR sailing simulator iOS app

AR sailing simulator iOS app

The Challenge

Design an app where user can learn the situational awareness of sailing, including right of way, and 
maneuvering characteristics of a boat.

The Approach

I chose to use AR, where realistic renderings of boats are placed over an existing environment, allowing the user to practice some of the complex situations that develop on the water, while they are on dry land.

When driving a car or riding a bike, situational awareness is very important, 
a user needs to think ahead to avoid situations where there may be a collision.

This is more difficult in sailing, because a boat has no brakes, and its steering 
can be less responsive because of water or wind conditions.

How it works

With this app, a user can simulate the momentum of a sailboat by walking, 
paced by the app's vibration haptic. The user can input steering and sail trim, and is given turning and speed guidance 
based on the characteristics of a sailing dinghy. Other vessels, with realistic sail shape and angle of heel, help user practice right-of-way situations.

Sailing characteristics

The user steers the boat too far into the wind, causing the sail to luff, indicated by an audio haptic.

Ability to steer is affected by sail trim. The boat at right has sail in too far, preventing a turn downwind.

The user turns the boat into the wind to stop. A vibration haptic indicates the boats pace.

Right of way / rules of the road practice

Sail shape and angle of heel tells the user who has right of way. In this case the boat has wind coming over the left side, putting it on port tack.


The designer giving a sailing lesson. I drew on experience teaching sailing to under stand which concepts can be taught in a boat, and which can be taught on land.

Testing an app that currently exists. For users who are really interested in the nuances of sailing, or need to practice rules of the road to pass certification tests, many existing apps are not realistic enough.

This is a work in progress

Check back for more updates. Last updated 1-4-2020.