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Tuesday in CE: Google Launches an ARCore Developers Kit for Android Devs

31 August 2017

Manufacturers to work alongside Google to build and use the ARCore platform include Samsung, Huawei, LG and ASUS to build the platform. The platform, which is now available for developers to experiment with, will render augmented reality capabilities to existing and future Android phones, Google said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Steve Conine, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair and who worked with Google on the project said: "With the release of technology like ARCore, AR will reach a crucial tipping point toward mainstream adoption, enabling us to provide a lifelike, 3D "view-in-room" experience for significantly more customers than we do today across the entire Android ecosystem". The decision means the technology would have to work on phones dating as far back as the iPhone 6s, notably having a single camera and standard motion sensors, rather than a dual camera system and special-depth sensing chips.

Instead, it relies on a phone's front-facing camera to track motion and is capable of estimating light and the surrounding environment in order to make virtual objects looks as real as possible when overload on an everyday scene.

Apple has often been accused of putting on a facade and pretending it developed new technology that other companies had been experimenting with for years.

While ARCore now only works on Google's Pixel and Samsung's Galaxy S8 running Android 7.0 Nougat or higher, the aim is to bring it to all newer Android phones.

Google today announced the launch of a new software development kit called ARCore.

Google also says it is working "Visual Positioning Service (VPS), a service which will enable world scale AR experiences well beyond a tabletop".

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Essentially Google's answer to Apple's ARKit, and definitely a rebranding (at least partially) of Project Tango. ARCore will obviously require that the device will need a camera of some sort, and some functionality will require certain sensors - like a light sensor for light estimation.

ARCore will run on Android 7.0 Nougat and newer operating system versions.

Augmented Reality (AR) as an endeavour is set to explode on to the scene following initial successes, most notably the release of Pokémon Go past year that led people to go to some extreme places with their phones to catch a digital creature.

Much like ARKit, ARCore is made to function on devices without specialized sensors for sensing depth, and as such, is not flawless by any means, but it is widely available and easily accessible.

Eyeglasses, vehicle windshields and other surfaces which overlay digital information on the real world have been touted by industry leaders as becoming major players in the AR space in coming years.

ARCore will be taking on Apple's ARKit, which allows iOS developers to write AR applications for iPhones and iPads. ARCore is supposed to more broadly leverage Android, which Google touts as "the largest mobile platform in the world".

As such, Apple's AR offerings will be available across a broad range of devices - and although iOS 11 hasn't been released yet, demonstration apps have already been presented to potential consumers. The company also says it has placed an emphasis on ensuring tasks like the reflection of light, colour temperature and shadows, are easier for developers to implement properly in their AR apps.

Tuesday in CE: Google Launches an ARCore Developers Kit for Android Devs