When imagination and technology come together, everything becomes possible. The idea of merging the real and virtual worlds has always been quite fascinating. We’ve seen it in movies, and it has slowly expanded into the videogames world. The first implementations were impressive, but they lacked something technology couldn’t offer until now. Here is why Google ARCore is different and how it’s changing augmented reality.
Which were the biggest limitations for AR?
The earliest examples of augmented reality we can think of are 3D movies and 3D books. The reason they can be classified as such is that they’re all based on the same concept. When we use the 3D glasses, the images seem to come out of the screen or the paper. This allows us to see something that isn’t actually there, thus altering our perception of reality.
This idea had a lot of potential to it, but there was a lot of work to do. In fact, the next big step was making these illusions interactive. While placing a virtual object in a physical space wasn’t difficult, the interaction with physical obstacles represented a challenge. The problem has always been the same: the software was able to see the environment, but it couldn’t understand it.
Several attempts have been made to improve this technology, but a camera simply couldn’t provide all the necessary information. So how can a program see the world just like a person does? This is where Google and its artificial intelligence resources come into play. Keep reading if you want to know what ARCore is, how to use it and which devices are supported!
What is Google ARCore?
Google ARCore is an open source platform for building augmented reality experiences. This technology integrates advanced APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), making them available to developers. These APIs interfaces with the camera and other sensors in order to acquire all the needed information. Then, the information is processed, allowing your device to sense and understand the environment. ARCore is the successor to Project Tango, which has served as an alpha testing program.
How does Google ARCore work?
The way ARCore works is based on three fundamental concepts: motion tracking, environmental understanding, and light estimation. First of all, your device will ask you to move the camera around, thus allowing the software to estimate the surroundings. Then, it will select some recognizable points, which will be constantly tracked. Finally, the sensors will precisely track the position of these points even when they’re not in frame.
The lighting comes into play when the software generates a virtual object in the real space. In fact, Google ARCore is able to estimate the natural light and reproduce it on the simulated elements. Another important feature is the ability to recognize flat surfaces, which basically tells the apps where there is enough space. All this allows for a seamless integration with the world, thus making the technology exceptionally versatile.
Which are the main advantages?
The main difference between Google ARCore and older augmented reality software is intelligence. Some earlier solutions required the use of special cards, which the software was able to recognize and track. This has allowed to precisely recognize surfaces, but the cards themselves were a limiting factor. Removing the cards allowed to give users more freedom, but then tracking wasn’t as precise.
The ability to understand the environment has allowed ARCore to adapt to any situation. Rather than using standardized programming, it relies on machine learning. Not only it’s more effective, but it also gets better the more you use it. This means that apps won’t have to guess anymore, because all the information will be ready to use. The best part is that developers don’t have to worry about it when creating a new app, Google has already taken care of the most difficult part.
What are the requirements for ARCore?
No matter how advanced the software is, it wouldn’t be able to work correctly without good hardware. If the platform was made available for everyone, some users would be inevitably disappointed. This is why supported devices have to be selected very carefully.
Being supported means that the device has been certified by Google. The certification process includes accurate measurements and the analysis of the hardware. Then, ARCore is optimized for each individual device in order to get the most out of it. Some of the requirements Google takes into consideration are sensors, cameras, and performance.
First of all, the device needs to have excellent sensors with low latency and high accuracy. This is the most important element since an inaccurate sensor would completely distort the tracking. Secondly, the camera quality needs to be good enough to provide all the needed information in any lighting condition. Lastly, the CPU and the GPU need to be capable of performing the required real-time calculations.
How does multi-user support work?
Since the beginning, one of the main goals was supporting multi-user experiences. In order to make it possible, when connected to another device, ARCore moves the real-time data to a shared Cloud anchor. The data of both devices is then synchronized, so both can interact with the same elements. This increases the potential of the platform even further, allowing group working and multiplayer gaming.
While connecting two Android devices is fairly easy, with iOS it’s a bit different. For those who don’t know, Apple offers a similar proprietary framework called ARKit. The problem is that the two platforms aren’t natively compatible with each other. In order to overcome this obstacle, Google has released a special SDK for iOS. The way it works is simply by interfacing the data between the two platforms. As a result, we get a seamless cross-platform experience.
Which devices are supported by ARCore?
As already seen in the requirements section, supported devices are those which get certified by Google. The process is not simple and many factors play into the final decision. Google is working with several manufacturers in order to ensure the best possible augmented reality experiences. When a new device receives the certification, it will be added to the supported devices official page.
Once the device is certified, the downloadable framework will become available on the Play Store. For Android devices without Google services, the framework will be published in proprietary stores. Instead, support for iOS devices will be added directly through ARCore enabled apps. Check the official page for more specific information!
What does ARCore allow you to do?
Thanks to Google ARCore, many new opportunities have been created. Augmented reality is now accurate enough to be applied to practical and professional scenarios. The potential is enormous; transforming it into reality is now up to the developers. If you’re curious, there are some interesting apps to try. Before that, you need to make sure to have the framework on your device. For enabled Android devices, we’ll leave the Play Store link below. Now let’s see some examples to experience this new platform!
Measure is one of the first apps designed with ARCore support in mind. As the name suggests, it’s a measuring tool which uses the camera to evaluate the size of physical objects. The first reason why it’s awesome is its ability of showing how precise the augmented reality platform is. Additionally, it could be very useful to make some quick measurements when you don’t have other appropriate tools.
AR Ruler is another great implementation of the measuring feature. It takes the Google app a step further by including many additional features. In fact, you can measure distances, angles, areas, volumes and more. Since both measuring apps are based on the same platform, you can expect a similar precision level. AR Ruler is free to download from the Play Store.
This app allows you to visualize how your home would look with different furnishings. When you launch it, it will ask you to scan the area that you want to decorate. Then you can choose anything you want from the catalog and drag it into the room. There is no scaling to do since Google ARCore ARCore is able to determine the correct size for every object. We recommend reading the description for a comprehensive explanation about how to use the app.
Many have loved it, many have hated it. However, we won’t be talking about the game itself. Instead, we’ll focus on the recent ARCore implementation. Augmented reality has always been one of the selling points of this game. The problem was that the results could be a bit inconsistent, depending on your area. Now, with the new platform to support it, you’ll be able to take advantage of AR Plus. As a result, the scaling and positioning of the creatures will be significantly improved.