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This is Google's vision for augmented reality content on the web

Google is giving developers tools to make it easier to develop augmented reality content for web browsers.

Published onJanuary 22, 2018

  • Google has been exploring how to bring augmented reality content to mobile and PC web browsers.
  • It created a prototype AR viewer and you can try it now.
  • The company also set up a website with tools to help developers start creating AR content for the web.

Google is bringing augmented reality to your web browser. The company has been pushing AR for a few years now through Tango and more recently ARCore.  Back at Google I/O 2017, it announced that AR would be available through the Chrome browser. Now it’s now moving forward on a project that will encourage people to develop AR elements for both desktop and mobile browsers.

Today, Google is debuting Article, a 3D model viewer that works with all browsers. On a PC, users can see a 3D model and manipulate it by dragging to rotate and scrolling to zoom in or out. On mobile, users touch and drag to rotate or drag with two fingers to zoom. Check out the example below: 

Tango was Google's too soon moonshot, but ARCore can do better

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

In this example, a user is able to walk around the space suit and see it from all sides. Models can also be moved once they’re placed or turned with a two finger swipe gesture. Google says that subtle features like shadows and lighting help blend the model with its surroundings. 

Article is just one in a series of prototypes and there’s a lot left to explore. While there’s currently no standard for AR on the web, Google wants to get people experimenting with web tools to create AR-enhanced web experiences. It set up a developer website if you’re interested in creating AR elements for web browsing.

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