Apple introduced ARKit with its latest iOS 11, a new framework that allows developers to easily create augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad and today, Google has introduced its own augmented reality SDK ‘ARCore’, which promises to bring augmented reality to millions of Android devices. ARCore is debuting on the Pixel and Galaxy S8 but by its public launch, Google plans to have 100 million AR-ready Android devices.
“We’ve architected ARCore to be able to perceive a wide variety of sensors,” said Google AR/VR head Clay Bavor. “We foresee, in the future, many more phones having depth-sensing capabilities and as those come into mainstream phones, that’s great, ARCore will work seamlessly with those and benefit from the additional sensing capabilities.”
Currently, ARCore is focusing primarily on detecting horizontal planes, managing the device’s own motion tracking and estimating light. The company isn’t only aiming ARCore at Android devices, but is also releasing “prototype browsers for Web developers” that also support the SDK. Google says “these custom browsers allow developers to create AR-enhanced websites and run them on both Android/ARCore and iOS/ARKit”.
Google runs down the SDK’s capabilities as follows:
- Motion tracking: Using the phone’s camera to observe feature points in the room and IMU sensor data, ARCore determines both the position and orientation (pose) of the phone as it moves. Virtual objects remain accurately placed.
- Environmental understanding: It is common for AR objects to be placed on a floor or a table. ARCore can detect horizontal surfaces using the same feature points it uses for motion tracking.
- Light estimation: ARCore observes the ambient light in the environment and makes it possible for developers to light virtual objects in ways that match their surroundings, making their appearance even more realistic.
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