Google at its annual developer conference I/O 2017 announced new developments for its virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) platforms. For VR, Google unveiled a standalone VR headset taking a major leap in this segment. Google’s VP of Virtual Reality Clay Bavor also announced a new augmented reality feature called Visual Positioning Service (VPS) for its Tango platform. VPS, which Google is currently working on, will help in giving users a better navigational experience indoors.
Google Tango is an augmented reality platform which enables smartphones and tablets to use their camera and on-board sensors to map the environment around the user. Bavor says that VPS combines Google Tango’s tracking system with Maps to help provide accurate location information indoors. Bavor explained how this would work by giving the example of using a VPS-enabled device at a departmental store. He explains that VPS will help the user provide the location of an item they are searching for within centimeters. In simple words, Bavor says, “GPS can get you to the door, VPS can get you the exact item.”
Bavor also showed a video demo of how the VPS works on a Tango-enabled device. A short video clip shows the device tracking the entire store, and as it moves forward, it maps different items located on the shelves which are then highlighted. This way, the VPS feature will keep a track of previously collected data thereby giving the user precise location of the item needed. ALSO READ: Google I/O 2017: Standalone VR headsets is what we needed; WorldSense technology from HTC, Lenovo coming soon
Bavor also mentioned how the VPS technology integrated with audio can do wonders for visually-impaired people. It would change the way they walk and navigate around the world. He further said that VPS will be also be integrated into Google Lens, another AR-based camera technology that Google announced at I/O 2017. There was no specific launch date announced for the VPS technology however, and it could take time as Google is still working on it.
AR and VR are two technologies constantly evolving although the former has a more familiar and comfortable approach towards the masses. AR in the simplest form can be seen in popular smartphone games like Pokémon GO and the face filters available on apps like Snapchat and Instagram. With VSP, Google is aiming for a wider approach on AR that would essentially bring out the best with what’s available in the surrounding environment. ALSO READ: Augmented reality has the potential to become as big as the smartphone: Tim Cook
The integration of VSP would possibly be seen on Google Tango-enabled smartphones, the Lenovo PHAB2 Pro and the Asus ZenFone AR. Lenovo has already launched the PHAB2 Pro, while the Asus ZenFone AR is yet to make it to the market. Since these smartphones would presumably cater to a niche crowd, it remains to be seen how soon developments in augmented reality would reach a wider space. We may not see the VSP technology hitting the commercial scene at all even with the two smartphones, as Google said that it currently works with a few museums and Lowe’s stores. ALSO READ: Asus ZenFone AR hands-on and first impressions: Future of augmented reality seems bright
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