Google today released a preview of a new software development kit (SDK) called ARCore which will bring augmented reality (AR) capabilities to existing and future Android phones.
Developers can start experimenting with it right now, says Google. ARCore works without any additional hardware, which means it can scale across the Android ecosystem. ARCore will run on millions of devices, starting first with Google Pixel and Samsung’s S8, running 7.0 Nougat and above.
Google is targeting 100 million devices at the end of the preview and the company is working with manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, LG, ASUS and others to make this possible with a consistent bar for quality and high performance.
ARCore works with Java/OpenGL, Unity and Unreal and focuses on three things:
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’s 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.
Google also mentioned at I/O, that the company is also working on Visual Positioning Service (VPS), a service which will enable world scale AR experiences well beyond a table top. Google thinks Web will be a critical component of the future of AR, thus the company is also releasing prototype browsers for web developers so they can start experimenting with AR, too. These custom browsers allow developers to create AR-enhanced websites and run them on both Android/ARCore and iOS/ARKit.
ARCore is Google’s reply to Apple’s ARKit which will be released with iOS 11. ARKit will turn hundreds of Apple devices AR-capable machines, giving developers a new type of goldmine to bet big on the on the iOS platform.