Google has announced a new tool for developers and creators who want to build and launch augmented reality (AR) experiences in real-world locations. The tool, called Geospatial Creator, is powered by ARCore and Google Maps Platform, and leverages photorealistic 3D tiles to visualize and augment the 3D geometry of the world.
Geospatial Creator enables users to select a location, get the 3D data of the area, and move through the area as they would on Google Earth. Users can then place and anchor 3D content at any given latitude, longitude, and altitude with sub-meter accuracy in areas covered by Google Street View. Users can also use terrain anchors and rooftop anchors to place 3D content with respect to the ground level and building geometry.
Geospatial Creator is available in Unity and Adobe Aero, two popular platforms for creating immersive AR experiences. Users can create rich and powerful AR experiences with Unity's end-to-end development platform, or design engaging and interactive AR experiences with Adobe Aero's no-code interface. Both platforms allow users to preview and deploy their AR experiences on supported devices on both Android and iOS.
Users can access Geospatial Creator through ARCore Extensions and Geospatial Creator in Unity, or through the Geospatial Pre-release in Adobe Aero. Google claims that Geospatial Creator can help users create world-anchored, immersive experiences in minutes with little to no coding abilities. The tool aims to make the world the canvas for AR creation, and to empower users to bring their creative vision to life.
Google Boosts ARCore with Slew of Geospatial Features
Google ARCore is a platform that enables developers to create augmented reality (AR) experiences for Android, iOS, Unity, and Web. ARCore uses the device's camera and sensors to understand the real world and overlay digital content on top of it.
Google's ARCore Geospatial Creator announcement followed a previous boost to geospatial capabilities earlier this week. The company announced some new features and updates for its augmented reality platform, ARCore, which enables developers to create immersive experiences on Android, iOS, Unity, and Web. Some of the highlights include:
- ARCore Geospatial API: This new API allows developers to attach content remotely to any area mapped by Google Street View and create world-scale immersive experiences in over 100 countries. For example, developers can create virtual tours, games, or educational apps that leverage the real-world environment.
- Geospatial anchors: These are a type of cloud anchors that enable developers to place and anchor 3D content at any location in the real world with sub-meter accuracy in areas covered by Google Street View. Geospatial anchors can be used for persistent, multi-user, and cross-platform AR experiences that are tied to specific places.
- Recording and Playback API: This new API enables developers to record an AR session that can be replayed later with ARCore, as if it were a live recording. This can be useful for testing, debugging, or sharing AR experiences with others.
- Depth API updates: The Depth API, which was launched last year, allows developers to add realism and interaction to their AR apps by measuring the distance between surfaces from a given point. Google has improved the performance and quality of the Depth API and added support for more devices, including Samsung Galaxy S21 series and Pixel 5a.
- Lighting Estimation updates: The Lighting Estimation feature provides information about the average intensity and color correction of the environment, which can be used to add realistic lighting, shadows, ambient light, shading, and more to 3D content. Google has added support for directional light estimation, which can detect the main direction of light in a scene and apply it to virtual objects.
Google is using ARCore with the new geospatial capabilities to partner with TAITO for a new launch of the classic Space Invaders game. By accessing the technology in ARCore, the game will play as an overlay in the real world:
Google ARCore Wants to Be Your Tourist Guide
Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is Google's first tourism partner in their global ARCore Early Access Program to co-ideate new innovative tourism use cases. With this new AR guided tour in its Visit Singapore app, visitors can follow Merli, Singapore's well-loved tourism mascot on an immersive tour of Singapore's iconic landmarks and hidden gems.
The AR guided tour is powered by Google's ARCore Geospatial API, which was also announced at the company's I/O event this week. The API can track the position and orientation of users, place virtual content in the real world and create realistic lighting and physics effects.
The tour covers two locations: Merlion Park and Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall. At Merlion Park, visitors can learn about the history and significance of the Merlion statue, as well as discover local cuisine and culture. At Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall, visitors can witness a string quartet performing on top of the national monument, as well as explore the architectural features and stories of the building.
The AR guided tour is designed to enhance the visitor experience by adding a layer of interactivity and accessibility to Singapore's attractions. Visitors can enjoy the tour at their own pace and convenience, as well as access information and content that may not be available otherwise.
The AR guided tour will be fully launched by the end of the year, and will be available for free in the Visit Singapore app on both iOS and Android devices. The app also features other useful information and tips for exploring Singapore, such as events, deals, itineraries and maps.
STB's senior vice president of Future Tourism, Goh Kershing, said that the collaboration with Google is part of STB's efforts to leverage technology to create new and differentiated experiences for visitors. “We hope to harness the power of AR technology to augment the physical world and heighten the element of helpful surprises for all travelers and local explorers of Singapore,” he said.