Google introduces its own AR software development kit dubbed ARCore. ARCore doesn’t require any special equipment; you only need your phone. (Image via Google)


Not too long ago, Apple stepped up their VR game with ARKit, their first attempt at an augmented reality platform. A tool that allows developers to create AR apps easily, it’s already yielded some impressive results like a virtual pet game and restaurant app that displays food on a plate. Not to be outdone, Google stepped up and announced their own augmented reality platform called ARCore.


Similar to Apple’s platform, ARCore is a software development kit (SDK) that brings AR capabilities to current and future Android phones. Unlike Google’s other AR project Tango, no special hardware is required – all you need is your phone to start experimenting. You can access the software right now if you have Pixel or Samsung Galaxy 8 – both have to be running Android 7.0 Nougat or higher. That’s pretty limited, but in the future, the company hopes to have ARCore running other phones by LG, ASUS, and others.


ARCore works with Java/OpenGL, Unity and Unreal, similar to Apple’s software, and specializes on three features: motion tracking by using your phone’s camera, environmental understanding to detect horizontal surfaces, and light estimation to make sure the lighting and shadow of virtual objects match your surroundings.


Wanting to be on the cusp of emerging technology, Google has already invested in apps and services specializing in AR. Some examples are 3D tools Blocks and Tilt Brush, which makes creating 3D content pretty easy. The company is also working on a Visual Positioning Service (VPS), which will enable world scale AR experiences that go beyond a tabletop. At the same time, they’re releasing prototype browsers to let web developers start playing around with AR. These AR enhanced sites can run on both Android/ARCore and iOS/ARKit.


ARCore is just one way to reach the company’s goal of making AR accessible to everyone. And people have wasted no time taking advantage of the software. Google shows off some examples in their new AR Experiments showcase. And so far, the results are impressive. From cartoon blobs that grow from the ground to drawing a little stick figure and making him dance, it’s clear there are lots of possibilities with AR. Hopefully, Apple isn’t too angry that Google seems to be moving in on their territory.


Follow this link to their ARCore showcase.



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