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posted by martyb on Tuesday December 19 2017, @07:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the it-takes-two dept.

Google's Project Tango is shutting down because ARCore is already here

Google said today that it'll be shutting down Project Tango next year, on March 1st. Project Tango was an early effort from Google to bring augmented reality to phones, but it never really panned out. The system was introduced in 2014 and made it into developer kits and even a couple consumer devices as recently as last year.

But those devices required special sensors. And in the meantime, Google (and competitors, like Apple) figured out ways to bring AR features to phones with just the hardware that's already on board. Google introduced a new augmented reality system, known as ARCore, in late August. It just brought that system to the Pixel and Pixel 2 in the form of some augmented reality stickers — immediately opening AR features to more people than Tango is likely to have reached in its lifetime.

ARCore Developer Preview 2.

Also at Ars Technica, TechCrunch.

Related: Google's Project Tango Coming to 12 More Countries
Google Tango Means You'll Never Get Lost in a Store Again
Google Announces "Lens" Augmented Reality Service
Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets
HTC Cancels U.S. Release of a Google Daydream VR Headset, Reveals Own Standalone Headset

Original Submission

Related Stories

Google's Project Tango Coming to 12 More Countries 2 comments

Google’s Project Tango tablet development kit is going on sale this month in 12 additional countries.

The tablet and associated tools were released in the U.S. in May, and as of Tuesday they’re now available in South Korea and Canada as well, Google said in a blog post. On Aug. 26, the development kit will also go on sale in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

While anyone in those countries will be able to buy Project Tango from the Google Play Store, the company stressed that it’s intended right now for developers.

Project Tango uses a depth sensing camera and other technologies to create a virtual 3D map of the world around it. That allows developers to create novel apps that incorporate things like augmented reality and object tracking. NASA has used it to help guide flying robots in space.

Original Submission

Google Tango Means You'll Never Get Lost in a Store Again 42 comments

As a kid, I always wanted to be on the TV show "Supermarket Sweep."

In the middle of a Lowe's store in 2017, my dream almost came true. The home improvement retailer is rolling out an augmented-reality app that tells you the fastest way to find items on your list.

It's powered by Google's Tango, an indoor-mapping technology using special cameras to sense depth in 3D space. Measure objects, map a room and see virtual objects in the real world with augmented reality.

With a phone in one hand and a shopping cart in the other, I'm rushing around the aisles pulling items off the shelf. On screen I see a yellow line overlaid on the camera image, navigating me to the next item on my list. There's an aisle and shelf number in case I get really confused, as well as an estimate step counter that tells me how far I have to go.

Original Submission

Google Announces "Lens" Augmented Reality Service 14 comments

Google has announced an augmented reality service that overlays information on top of objects seen by a smartphone camera:

On Wednesday, the search giant announced a big push into augmented reality, which overlays digital images on what you'd normally see through a camera.

The new technology, announced at the company's I/O developer conference, is called Google Lens. It's a way to use your phone's camera to search for information. For example, point your camera at that flower and Google will tell you what kind it is. Point it at a book, and you get information on the author and see reviews. Ditto with restaurants: You'll be able to see reviews and pricing information on a little digital card that appears above the building on your phone's screen.

[...] Google Lens marks a big, ambitious attempt by a mainstream company to get into augmented reality in a way we haven't much seen yet. Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) use AR for now to make you laugh and smile with filters like rainbow vomit or Iron Man masks. That stuff is important, but Google is taking a different approach when it comes to AR: utility.

Indeed, photo filters are very important.

Original Submission

Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets 7 comments

Google is partnering with HTC and Lenovo to produce standalone (no smartphone or tether) virtual reality headsets. The headsets could cost around $500-$700, comparable to the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. As they will have less computational/graphics power than flagship smartphones or desktops, Google has developed a rendering system that they claim can compensate by decreasing the amount of polygons needed to render a scene (related video):

Meanwhile, a rendering system called Seurat — named after the pointillist painter Georges Seurat — is supposed to offer image quality that rivals what you'd get on a high-end PC. Andrey Doronichev, Google's director of product management, describes Seurat as "computational magic." It takes a rendered three-dimensional scene and samples shots of it from many different angles. As seen [here], Seurat uses these images to assemble a facade that drastically reduces the number of polygons the headset needs to render, without a visible loss of quality.

Google can also use the same Daydream user interface it's been fine-tuning for the past year on phones. A software update codenamed Euphrates will add the features you need for devices that users can't just pop apart and use as a phone, like a full-featured web browser and a dashboard for accessing settings and other non-VR parts of Android.

Google envisions VR and AR converging into mixed reality headsets, building on the augmented reality technologies developed under Project Tango as well as Daydream VR:

To make VR more transporting, and AR more convincing and useful, everything behind these experiences must improve: displays, optics, tracking, input, GPUs, sensors, and more. As one benchmark, to achieve "retina" resolution in VR — that is, to give a person 20/20 vision across their full field of view — we'll need roughly 30 times more pixels than we have in today's displays. To make more refined forms of AR possible, smartphones will need more advanced sensing capabilities. Our devices will need to understand motion, space, and very precise location. We'll need precision not in meters, but in centimeters or even millimeters.

Both the Rift and Vive have 2160×1200 displays. Roughly 30 times more pixels would mean a resolution of around 11880×6600, or 16704×4698 (32:9 aspect ratio).

Original Submission

HTC Cancels U.S. Release of a Google Daydream VR Headset, Reveals Own Standalone Headset 1 comment

HTC will not widely commercialize a planned Google Daydream headset, but released more details about the Vive Focus, a standalone VR headset with integrated positional tracking:

HTC has officially revealed the Vive Focus, its all-in-one VR headset. As previously announced, the Vive Focus runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip and uses inside-out positional tracking. It should be the first standalone six-degrees-of-freedom VR headset to see release, though HTC isn't saying exactly when it'll be available.

[...] HTC has only announced plans for the Vive Focus in China just yet, and even then there aren't any details on pricing or a release date. If you were holding out for that Vive-branded standalone Google Daydream headset, meanwhile, there's bad news — HTC and Google have cancelled their plans to bring it to the US.

Original Submission

Google Shows Off Augmented Reality Features at I/O 2018 1 comment

Google has shown off some new augmented reality features at its I/O conference. Google Maps will get an augmented reality Street View:

Google showed off new features for Google Maps at I/O today, including an augmented reality Street View mode to help you follow directions in real time, along with personalized recommendations to help you discover places in your neighborhood.

The new AR features combine Google's existing Street View and Maps data with a live feed from your phone's camera to overlay walking directions on top of the real world and help you figure out which way you need to go. It's a lot like the promises Google had made with the original version of Google Glass, except without the need for wearing an additional AR headset.

No need for an AR headset? What if I want to walk around without holding a phone?*

Google has also updated ARCore, with version 1.2:

Google is launching a new version of its augmented reality platform for Android, ARCore 1.2. Version 1.2 adds support for wall detection, launching an AR experience via image recognition, a new "Sceneform" framework, and a "Cloud Anchors" feature that enables shared experiences not just across Android devices—it works on top of iOS' ARKit, too.

Google launched ARCore version 1.0 in February as its big reboot of the Project Tango augmented reality project. Where Tango was focused on special hardware with extra sensors and cameras, ARCore tries to replicate some of that functionality on a normal smartphone. ARCore doesn't work on every single Android phone; instead, it works on a model-by-model basis (mostly on flagships) and requires some work from the device manufacturer. Most of the major Android OEMs, like Samsung, LG, and OnePlus, are signed up though, and today ARCore has a supported install base of more than 100 million devices.

Google Lens, an augmented reality service which overlays information on top of objects seen by a smartphone camera, will be integrated into the default camera app of at least 10 Android smartphones, instead of operating separately. It will also add new features, including real-time search displayed within the camera app (e.g. point your camera at a concert poster and begin playing a video of the artist's new single), and "smart text selection" (e.g. point it at a handwritten recipe to convert it into a document).

*And still be blessed by Google's guidance.

Related: Google Announces "Lens" Augmented Reality Service
Google's Project Tango Shutting Down, to be Replaced by ARCore

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by rob_on_earth on Tuesday December 19 2017, @09:21AM

    by rob_on_earth (5485) on Tuesday December 19 2017, @09:21AM (#611753) Homepage

    Saw the demos on the BBC couple of years ago and was really excited. The hardware would be expensive but unlock the 3D-ness of any environment you were in and really looked like the future.

    As it was adopted the cost, size and availability would all adapt to the market and we would end up with a commodity component that makes anything from a phone to a Raspberry Pi or VR head set fully aware of the 3D layout of the area you were in.

    I got a Pixel phone earlier in the year and after hearing all the VR talk around its capabilities I expected it to have Tango built in. But no, same old accelerometer rubbish that makes me very sick.

    Maybe if they open-sourced it. We need the cost of the hardware and processing to come way down before it would be truly viable.

  • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Tuesday December 19 2017, @11:47AM

    by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 19 2017, @11:47AM (#611779)

    You know when you've been Tango'd!

  • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Tuesday December 19 2017, @12:14PM

    by inertnet (4071) on Tuesday December 19 2017, @12:14PM (#611782) Journal

    Google said today that it'll be shutting down []

    For a fraction of a second I thought I had read that Google would be shutting down Twitter. Maybe because of all the fake news? But disappointment followed, it's just a case of wishful thinking.

    Wouldn't it be really funny if they'd start blocking each other, in their frantic efforts to shut down half the internet. Facebook should join that party too.