Google Releases Details of Working AR Prototype on Chrome

Google has been working to integrate augmented reality into the mobile/desktop web via its Chrome browser. Google Daydream WebXR’s Reza Ali and Josh Carpenter, who work on user experience, now describe the results, which will enable users to create virtual 3D objects and place them into websites for viewing and download to the mobile platform to place them in real-world environments. Creative professionals will eventually be able to use the browser of any Android or iOS device to create and use AR experiences.

The Verge reports that Reza and Carpenter’s blog post “details how the working prototype version of AR on Chrome would work,” based on a “product tentatively called Article” that the two “describe as a 3D model viewer for browsers.”

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Loaded on a desktop browser with a 3D model, Article “will display it as an interactive image you can drag to rotate.” On a webpage, the model can be animated like a GIF, and on mobile, “the experience is much more sophisticated thanks to built-in cameras and sensors on modern smartphones.”

“We can, for example, surf the web, find a model, place it in our room to see just how large it truly is, and physically walk around it,” said Reza and Carpenter. The process would be ideal for “all manner of activities, from entertainment to education.”

“Article is just one in a series of prototypes, and there’s so much left to explore — from using light estimation to more seamlessly blend 3D objects with the real world, to adding diegetic UI annotations to specific positions on the model,” they added. “Mobile AR on the web is incredibly fun right now because there’s a lot to be discovered.”

The Verge points out that Google’s reason to “develop mobile, browser-based AR” is its competition with Apple and its ARKit developers’ kit for AR apps and services. Google, which offers its ARCore developers’ kit, is cross-platform since Chrome is a “popular browser alternative to the iPhone’s built-in Safari.” “By making AR work on mobile browsers, Google is able to maintain its cross-platform advantage.”