Google Teases New AR Features Coming To Google Maps & Lens

Google VR becomes Google AR & VR as the company uses its annual I/O event to tease a new wave of augmented technology.

Google wasted no time at this years Google I/O Developer Conference, diving head first into some truly jaw-dropping projects soon making their way to our devices. Incredible advancements in artificial intelligence, updates on the progress to their fleet of self-driving smart cars, even additional Google Assistant voices provided by celebrities such as the legendary John Legend (pun intended).

However it was Google’s impressive advancements in AR technology that truly shined this year as the company revealed a collection of new augmented features coming to not only pre existing applications, but brand new experiences as well. So  much so that that the company has officially changed its title of Google VR to Google AR & VR.

To kick off their AR extravaganza, Google first teased augmented integration within its Google Maps navigation app. After opening your Maps app, you’ll soon be able to hop into a “first-person” mode within Street View, helping you better guide yourself through unfamiliar locations via on-screen directional notifications. For a fun, more adorable commute, you’ll also have access to an animated AR fox character which you can follow to your destination instead. 

Google also announced several updates to its Google Lens, introducing AR features to 10 different Android-powered phones as well as direct integration with the camera app (as opposed to the current method which involves Google Photos). With new tech comes new modes such as “style match,” a new function which scans and identifies various real-world items, providing additional information as well as other relevant recommendations in real-time. Updates to Lens also include smart text detection, a new attribute that allows you to actually copy and paste text captured in digital images.

It doesn’t end there however. The company has begun introducing machine learning and cloud integration which allows Lens to alter various other real-world media. During the keynote for example, Lens brought an ordinary concert advertisement of Charlie Puth to life by displaying a relevant music video of the pop artist directly over his poster in real-time. New AR features to Google Lens will begin rolling out over the next coming weeks. 

When speaking with Clay Bavor, VP of AR & VR at Google Daydream, the passionate team leader expressed his excitement towards the upcoming Lens features, referring to them as the perfect tools to provide answers to questions you would normally have no way of properly formulating. Specifically, he used the example of spotting an old model car on the side of the road. How exactly would you go about asking someone the model of that car without having an actual photo as a reference? You could provide clumsy descriptions of random features in hopes someone may recognize what you’re talking about. Clay however hopes the information provided by Lens could serve as the perfect solution to this conundrum.

Of course there was no shortage of original AR applications presented as well. Over at Google’s “Sandbox” attraction several interesting AR projects were on display entailing everything from games to art. Lightboard, an upcoming multiplayer AR title, showed Google’s ability to deliver shared-augmented experiences by pitting players against one another in a competitive digital ball-tossing game similar to that of beer pong. The most impressive part however was the fact that I was competing on an ARCore-powered Android phone, while my opponent battled me on an ARkit-powered by iPhone. This was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the event due primarily to the fact that API’s which allow for AR cross-compatibility between the providers aren’t exactly common at the moment. 

The company also showcased some impressive augmented artwork capable of extending from the floor all the way to the exhibits ceiling, further showcasing ARcore’s impressive tracking performance and the impact it could have on the creative field.

This is just day #1 of Google I/O and we’ve already been treated to a healthy amount of thrilling reveals. With another two days left of none-stop Google action you can definitely expect a few more surprises over the next 48 hours.

Image Credit: VRScout / Google AR & VR

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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