Day 2 of Google IO 2017 was focused on VR and AR. The company announced updates for devices as well as several new devices.
Google VR Headset and AR/VR-supported Devices
One of the announced devices that will take advantage of Google’s AR/VR platforms is Zenfone AR by Asus. It will support Google’s Daydream and AR platform called Google Tango.
In addition to smartphones, a new lineup of standalone devices for the Daydream VR platform was also revealed.
Along with displays, optics, and sensors optimized for the virtual reality experience, Daydream includes a feature called World Sense. Basically, they are the sensors that survey the environment for greatly improved precise presence tracking.
The AR Technology Google Tango
Google has been working on a new technology for the pastfew years. As the company said,
With Tango, devices can track motion and understand distances and their position in the real world. For VR, we’ve used technology from Tango as the foundation of WorldSense. For AR, it can be used to enable smartphone AR experiences by placing digital objects in real spaces. The next phone with Tango technology will be the ASUS ZenFone AR, available this summer.
Google’s New Visual Positioning System
Google rolled out its Visual Positioning System (VPS), which will be able to guide you in new ways for navigating learning and the world.
For example, you can walk into a store and point your phone’s camera in front of you. The program will identify what it is you’re looking for and kick in, using visual data and previous sessions to point you in the right direction.
It should be noted that it may be challenging to use the technology in extended environments like stadiums, museums and malls.
Google Classroom: Expeditions AR
Google’s VR education program Expeditions program counts over two million students. VR and using Cardboard VR headsets is now a thing of the past. The new era has begun: augmented reality replacing the VR.
To bring lessons to life, during a studying process will be used the Google Tango-compatible smart devices. In addition, this fall students also will be able to point their AR-ready smartphones at specific points in the classroom and find DNA molecules, volcanoes, pyramids and more awaiting them.
Similar to Google Expeditions for VR, Expeditions AR seems to be an exciting educational journey that will make students more involved in their studies.
Read also: How to Create Virtual Reality Content
Daydream 2.0 and Google Cast Support
The major updates of VR headsets are easier sharing, an improved interface, and Chrome. With Chrome in Daydream, users will be able to browse the web during the virtual reality experience with a Google Daydream controller.
Also, users can access WebVR content, with full Chrome Sync capabilities with bookmarks present.
As for the user interface, Google is adding a new dashboard in VR with notifications and quick access to settings (like switching Wi-Fi networks). Also, the new interface will let users switch apps.
One of these new controllers provides the ability to quickly capture screenshots and video screen capture. The latter can be streamed to Google Cast devices that allow others to ‘co-watch’ your VR session.
Youtube VR and 360 Degree Videos
YouTube is rolling out a new functionality: “Shared rooms” is a part of a larger update to Google’s Daydream VR platform, that will let users view 360 degree videos together. A “co-watching experience” will let small groups of users enter a viewing session and communicate with each other via voice chat.
What do these all mean? Youtube gives users a control over what they’re viewing and see what Youtube 360 video other people are watching with the option to sync up the same video. In a room, each user will have a customizable human-looking avatar.
The YouTube VR product lead Erin Teague asks:
How do you take comments and apply them to VR? The answer? Voice will be the way that people express themselves in VR.
Seurat is a new tool that makes it possible to run film-quality 3D scenes on mobile hardware.
The technology works by taking environmental renders from several different positions and angles, and then mapping them onto a low-polygon VR scene you can move around, which is similar to panoramas. According to the description of how it works that Google made, it almost certainly will not be appropriate for highly interactive scenes or games, but its immersion is certainly better that panoramas.
Not much was said about Seurat at the Google event, compared to Daydream phones and the forthcoming headsets Google Daydream. But it was promised that we will get more details later this year.
Web VR for Android
Day 2 of Google IO 2017 was full of innovations in the mobile AR/VR space. One of the biggest potentials in the applications field is Web VR in Chrome for Android which will be controlled using the Daydream controller. The feature comes out later this year.
With Chrome VR you will be able to browse the web in virtual reality. There is also a support for AR within the browser too. The user experience of Web VR is a theatre-like experience, which is fully immersive.
Web AR is a pretty practical thing. With the AR-enabled phone, you will be able to input the surrounding (for example, a kitchen) into the AR website (Wayfair) and see how a table or other furniture will look in the interior.
Web AR is not ready for primetime, but you can find it already on Chromium GitHub. Chrome VR will be released in several months.
Also published on Medium.