Further signaling Apple’s augmented reality plans, the company has joined LG and Valve in a $10 million investment into eMagin, a maker of “microdisplays” for both AR and VR technology.
Google today unveiled its experimental effort to integrate augmented reality features into the mobile and desktop web using its Chrome browser. That way, web designers, media organizations, and other creative professionals could create virtual 3D objects, embed them into websites for viewing on desktop, and make them downloadable on mobile so users could place those objects into their real world surroundings.
“In the next few months, there will be hundreds of millions of Android and iOS devices that are able to provide augmented reality experiences — meaning you’ll be able to look at the world through your phone, and place digital objects wherever you look,” writes Reza Ali and Josh Carpenter, who work on user experience on Google’s Daydream WebXR team. “To help bring this to as many users as possible, we’ve been exploring how to bring augmented reality to the web platform, so someday anyone with a browser can access this new technology.”
The blog post details how the working prototype version of AR on Chrome would work. It starts with a product tentatively called Article that Ali and Carpenter describe as a 3D model viewer for browsers. If Article is loaded on a desktop browser with a 3D model, it will display it as an interactive image you can drag to rotate. When placed in a webpage, the model could be animated similar to a GIF as a user scrolls to indicate it’s an interactive 3D model.
On mobile, the experience is much more sophisticated thanks to built-in cameras and sensors on modern smartphones. “The unique power of AR is to blend digital content with the real world,” the duo write. “So we can, for example, surf the web, find a model, place it in our room to see just how large it truly is, and physically walk around it.” You can see how this would work in action:
It’s easy to imagine how neat this could be for all manner of activities, from entertainment to education. Just being able to load a Wikipedia page for the Moon landing, as Google suggests here, and drop a 3D model of an astronaut in a classroom would be a fascinating new way to teach children with interactive experiments.
“Article is just one in a series of prototypes, and there’s so much left to explore — from using light estimation to more seamlessly blend 3D objects with the real world, to adding diegetic UI annotations to specific positions on the model,” concludes Ali and Carpenter. “Mobile AR on the web is incredibly fun right now because there’s a lot to be discovered.”
Of course, Google has a reason to want to develop mobile, browser-based AR. The company is currently competing with Apple and the iPhone maker’s ARKit framework to be the toolkit developers use to make apps and other AR-focused services. Google, which owns Android and the Play Store and has its own ARCore framework, nonetheless has a presence on iOS via the mobile web, where Chrome is a popular browser alternative to the iPhone’s built-in Safari. By making AR work on mobile browsers, Google is able to maintain its cross-platform advantage. It’s also in Google’s interest to prevent AR from becoming an entirely app-based technology on mobile, as that would lock out Android users from AR experiences developed solely for iOS.
(Via The Verge – All Posts)
Airbnb is developing virtual and augmented reality features to help guests find and navigate rental listings, the company announced on its blog today. Three-dimensional scans and 360-degree photos would allow users to get a better sense of a listing, and augmented reality overlays could help guests better understand the homes on a smaller scale once they’re in it. The company has been looking into VR to build trust between guests and hosts since last year, and this announcement confirming experiments and prototypes could mean a feature is coming soon.
It makes sense to take a look around a listing in VR before booking, but Airbnb also lists a few instances where augmented reality might be helpful during your trip. If you’re staying overseas and everything’s in a foreign language, it could be difficult to unlock the door, or figure out the thermostat or the hot water in the shower. It also lists a fun example of AR usefulness like “pulling up a mobile device to get directions to the coffee mugs … first thing in the morning.” This is a problem that could easily be solved by just opening up a few cupboards and figuring it out, but I get what they’re saying.
Virtual tours have been around in the real estate industry for a while, and Airbnb hosts have been asking for a feature to integrate them into their own listings. While the VR technologies could be implemented by providing Airbnb hosts with 360-degree cameras, it might be harder to integrate the AR concept for individual listings. Since ARKit was released on iOS 11, we’ve seen some concepts of what an AR overlay for Airbnb listings might look like. It seems like a useful and worthwhile idea, but it might be a more difficult challenge for Airbnb to take on.
But until this is a reality, I’ll still be satisfied with charming hand-written binders with tips on the local sights and illustrations on how to figure out the thermostat.
(Via The Verge – All Posts)
The Augmented Reality revolution is here!
Apps like Snapchat, with its facial filters, and the Pokemon Go! game made AR a reality for the masses, but Apple’s ARKit goes way beyond that. Developers can now create AR experiences that offer a whole different level of precision, detail and interactivity – which, I feel is going to be HUGE.