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Google Plans to Bring Augmented Reality to Web Browsers

While considering augmented reality, most of us would be thinking that we need an AR-enabled device, be it an Apple smartphone powered by ARKit or a headset like Microsoft HoloLens. However, Google is trying to make that accessibility even more universal. Apart from working on ARCore – which is supposed to add greater augmented reality (AR) functionality to Android devices this year, the tech giant has recently introduced to us ‘Article’- a 3D model viewer that will be compatible not only with Chrome but with all browsers.

“In the next few months, there will be hundreds of millions of Android and iOS devices that are able to provide augmented reality experiences — meaning you’ll be able to look at the world through your phone, and place digital objects wherever you look,” writes Reza Ali & Josh Carpenter, who work on user experience on Google’s Daydream WebXR team. “To help bring this to as many users as possible, we’ve been exploring how to bring augmented reality to the web platform, so someday anyone with a browser can access this new technology.”

On a PC, users will be able to see a 3D model as well as manipulate it by dragging to rotate & scrolling to zoom in or out. And on mobile, users can touch & drag for rotating or drag with two fingers for zooming.

The ultimate goal is to blend static content with AR content like a news article. When a user scrolls down to an AR element, the model rotates slightly in response to the movement. On mobile phone, an AR button appears in the bottom right corner. Tapping it activates the camera. Users can then place the object on the floor for getting a sense of how big something is in the real world.

“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,” concludes Ali and Carpenter. “Mobile AR on the web is incredibly fun right now because there’s a lot to be discovered.”

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