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Google Plans on Bringing AR to Everyone via the Web

Google’s been working on a prototype called Article.

When considering augmented reality (AR) most people would be correct in thinking that you need an AR-enabled device, whether that’s a headset like Microsoft HoloLens or an Apple smartphone powered by ARKit. Google on the other hand wants to make that accessibility even more universal. Aside from working on ARCore – which should add greater AR functionality to Android devices later this year – the company has revealed a new prototype its been working on, a 3D model viewer that works for all browsers called Article.

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While AR will be more ubiquitous in 2018 thanks to developments like ARKit and ARCore for mobile devices, being able to explore immersive AR content from and on the web would help further ingrain the technology into everyone’s daily lives.

In its basic form, when Article is used on a desktop users can spin a model round or scroll to zoom in and out. The same goes for mobile, pinching with two fingers to zoom for example. The AR functions come alive when Article is loaded on an AR-capable device and browser, with an AR button appears in the bottom right corner. Pressing the button activates the devices camera and a reticule appears for the users to then place the 3D object. At which point they can walk around the object and get a sense of scale – something you can’t do with a normal image.

Additionally, the AR models are interactive so that users can reposition the object by tapping and dragging, or rotate it with two fingers, making for a simple and intuitive interface that most users should find easy to learn. You may also notice that the spaceman used in the demo has a low polygon count, that’s because Article makes use of Google’s new 3D model library, Poly.

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In Google’s article, Reza Ali, UX Engineer, Daydream WebXR Team and Josh Carpenter, UX Lead, Daydream WebXR Team envisage how this might be used in the future, saying: “There’s vast potential for AR on the web—it could be used in shopping, education, entertainment, and more. Article is just one in a series of prototypes, and there’s so much left to explore.”

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