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ARCore 1.2 Lets Users Share AR Worlds

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At its recent I/O 2018 conference, Google announced version 1.2 of its augmented reality framework, ARCore, which brings collaborative AR experiences through Cloud Anchors, vertical plane detection, and SceneForms, which makes it possible to create 3D apps without using OpenGL.

Cloud Anchors aim to make it possible for developers to create augmented reality experiences that can be shared on multiple devices at the same time. According to Google,

[Cloud Anchors] will enable new types of collaborative AR experiences, like redecorating your home, playing games and painting a community mural—all together with your friends. You’ll be able to do this across Android and iOS.

Cloud Anchors apps will require some form of cloud storage to share anchor IDs between devices and use the Google Cloud Anchor service to synchronize them. There are two basic operations that an app can do on anchors:

  • Hosting an anchor, which means sending it to the Cloud Anchor service and specifying it position relative to other visual features;

  • Resolving all anchors belonging to a given AR room.

Google will soon update its Just a Line app, which allows its users to draw in augmented reality, to include support for Cloud Anchors and let users create a collaborative drawing.

Another enhancement to ARCore in version 1.2 is the possibility to detect vertical planes, which makes it possible to overlay AR objects on walls or other vertical surfaces.

Finally, SceneForms aims to make it easier for developers to work with 3D graphics in ARCore without resorting to OpenGL. SceneForms includes a 3D graphics API, a realistic physically based renderer, and an Android Studio plugin that allows to import, view, and build 3D models.

It is worth noting that Cloud Anchors fall short of providing full cloud persistence for augmented reality data, a goal pursued by startups such as Placenote and BlueVision, as Alberto Taiuti argues on Medium. Specifically, Cloud Anchors are only persisted for one day following their creation and the corresponding raw data will disappear after seven days. So, he concludes, they can only effectively be used for local multi-playing. This limitation could be removed by Google at some point, though.

You can get access to the various components of ARCore, both for Android and iOS, on Google AR repo on GitHub.

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