Google has given the world a preview of its new augmented reality toolkit called ARCore. The software development kit for Android devices is for building an AR-based apps, games, etc. Unlike its predecessor Tango, ARCore does not require any specialized hardware devices with sensors for creating augmented reality experiences.
Devices that Support ARCore
Google ARCore is supported by all Android devices that runs 7.0 Nougat and later. In a post, Dave Burke, Google VP of Android engineering, stated that the AR Development Toolkit will run on Pixel, Pixel XL, and the following models of the Samsung Galaxy S8: SM-G950FD, SM-G950F, SM-G950N, SM-G950U, SM-G950U1, and SM-G950W.
How does ARCore Work?
The three technologies that ARCore platform uses to blend the virtual world with the real one are:
Motion Tracking – senses and tracks the position of the device relative to the world
Environmental Understanding – uses the camera and sensors built-in the device to identify the size, location, important points, and features of the real objects in the surrounding environment.
List Estimation – lets the device estimate the lighting in the surrounding environment.
The ARCore Toolkit understands the real world surrounding of the user by tracking the position of the handheld device and using the camera and sensors in the mobile device to identify the edges, points, surfaces, and other important features of the surrounding environment.
Using the data collected by ARCore, developers can create AR experiences that allow users to place virtual objects on the surface of a real table, position a virtual character next to a real person, etc. The motion tracking feature gives the user the freedom to move around and view the virtual object from any angle.
History of ARCore
In November, last year, Google claimed that the 3D sensing camera technology Tango would be the biggest thing to happen after GPS. Tango’s director of product Nikhil Chandhok even went on to say that in 2017 many manufacturers will make Tang phones and that Tango was not an experiment. But, soon circumstances changed and Google had to let go of Tango. The change of heart was brought about by the introduction of Apple’s ARKit. Google decided to take the Apple route and find an easier, better, and cheaper way to do what Tango promised.
Google dropped the Tango phone experiment and launched ARCore. Like ARKit, ARCore will use the phone camera to sense and evaluate the surrounding environment and also track the phone’s movement in relation to the natural world. The ARCore API also tracks the surface of the floor, table, etc. so that users can place virtual objects on the surface. The users can see the blending of the virtual with the real world on the screen of the phone or any suitable handheld device.
The ARCore also allows developers sense the lighting of the scene and use the data to adjust the lighting on the virtual objects. Take for example, having a virtual dog in front of you. On the screen, you would see the dog’s shadow appropriately adjusted and pointing in the correct direction.
Developers – The Target Market
The ARCore API has developers as its target market. Even though augmented reality in some form or the other existed before the Pokemon Go, it was the game that introduced the potential of augmented reality to the general public. With the help of ARCore, developers can create sophisticated apps and games that can be uploaded on normal app stores and run on millions on existing handheld devices such as phones, tablets, etc.
Uses of ARCore
Interestingly, Google and Apple have found a new tech field to compete with each other – augmented reality (AR). Just a few weeks back when Apple was preparing to launch iPhone 8 and iPhone X and making big plans for rolling out iOS 11, Google was slowing revealing its game plan for augmented reality.
Google has put out in the public domain six augmented reality experiences created by Daydream Labs. The experiments are designed to showcase how augmented reality in Android devices can revolutionize the way users interact with the real world.
One of the experiments shows how ARCore can improve Street View. The prototype that used ARCore to create street view app gives users a panoramic view of the Great Russell Street and experience the British Museum at very close range. In another street view prototype app, the users could walk in a particular direction to change the view. Here the user’s physical activity is used to control the street view instead of the usual arrow marks.
Yet another Daydream Labs prototype shows how augmented reality can be used in the field of building design. A 3D model of a home can be overlaid on an under construction building to give a glimpse of the finished design.
Google sees ARCore play an important role in training, skill development, and education. Another prototype app Espresso Trainer offers instructions on the art of making espresso coffee.
The Daydream Labs have also released a prototype that resembles the work of Project Tango, ARCore’s predecessor. The experiment allows the users to interact with virtual creations. The prototype also includes depth of field feature that make automatic adjustments as the user moves closer or away.
The final experiment involves the use VPS (Visual Positioning Service) Beta. Using the ARCore created app a user can share current location to a friend. The app will use the VPS technology to guide the friend to the user’s location.