Google’s Feet in the Augmented Reality Platform

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The game Pokémon Go, launched last year in the United States kindled an interest among people about Augmented Reality (AR) driven applications. Phone based AR reality, in which digital objects are superimposed into the real world on screen, got a huge boost due to Pokémon Go. However, the world could get only a slight feel of Augmented Reality with this game.

Initially, the expectations for Augmented Reality and Virtual reality, were focused on head-worn displays such as the PlayStation VR. Today, however, it is well recognized that widespread availability and usage of such head-worn AR devices is still several years off.

As a result, the Tech industry has focused more on creating AR based applications for smartphones. At the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced the launch of ARKit, a set of software tools that ios developers can use to create AR based applications for iPhones and iPads.

“AR is big and profound,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook told investors earlier in August. “And this is one of those huge things that we’ll look back at and marvel on the start of it.” Apple is expected to create a buzz in the market with its AR enabled apps at the upcoming Apple launch event expected to take place on Sept 12.

To compete with Apple’s Augmented Reality Platform, Google has come up with ARCore for Android devices. Initially, ARCore will only work with Samsung S8 and S8+ devices and Google’s Pixel phones, but by the end of this year, Google has promised to support other Android devices as well. Just like ARKit, ARCore will provide set of tools for developing AR based applications, but in this case for Android developers and Android phones.

Google tried its hands on the AR platform with an AR system called Tango which uses depth sensors, but so far only two phone makers support it. Tango was an over engineered effort by Google that required certain specialized and expensive cameras to be added to simple smartphones, hence it could make such an impact in the market. Google has learned a great deal from this effort and this time has focused on making this system available for a large number of Android phones. Leveraging the smartphone’s camera and other sensors, ARCore can recognize motion, surfaces upon which items can be placed, and the lighting of the environment. It then uses that information to enable some pretty compelling “additions” to our real-world view.

However, the challenge posed by such AR driven apps is that people will have to hold up and hold out their phones to use them, which can become tiring. Hence, such AR based apps will most likely be used only for shorter durations. This gives the developers a big responsibility of developing apps that deliver value and usefulness to its users in a short interaction.

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