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Google Wants To Put Touchable Models In Your Browser

With a single tap, Google’s new prototype goes from web image to full, 3D model in your living room.

Google Wants To Put Touchable Models In Your Browser
[Image: Google]

How will that couch on Wayfair look in your living room? How will that outfit on Nordstrom look on your body? There are specialized apps that offer their users augmented reality to answer just these questions, but it never feels right, does it? Because there’s no simple way to go from the content on everyday websites to full 3D models in AR.

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A new prototype from Google may have solved just this problem. Called Article, it’s a window that can be embedded into any mobile website. As you scroll down a story, you see its 3D object inside rotate just a bit–luring you in, and showing off its dimensionality. Then, if you’d like to see that object in front of you in AR, you tap a single button, and presto, it’s there (thanks to your phone camera and screen).

“When the user taps the screen, the model sprouts from the reticle, fixed to the ground and rendered at its physical size,” Google explains on the project page. “The user can walk around the object and get a sense of scale and immediacy that images and video alone cannot convey.”

[Image: Google]
It’s easy to imagine the possibilities. VR and AR both offer some incredible, immersive experiences, but they’re contained inside their own boxes (be they bulky headsets and dedicated apps). If you could just go from the 2D web to 3D mixed reality, zero thinking or cursing required, it would change the way we experience media. Frankly, Google’s little prototype–as simple as it is–makes the everyday use of AR a lot more realistic.

Think about it: With a tap, your portfolio of architectural models on Behance appear right on the desk of the company that’s considering hiring you. You could be on a Wikipedia binge, knee deep in reading about automobile engines, when you could place one on your nearby coffee table to explore. And perhaps best of all, Google shows this idea working on a phone, but there’s no reason the same approach couldn’t be scaled to a system like Microsoft’s Hololens, moving 2D media from your screen into a fully 3D, perhaps interactive model in front of your hands.

It’s too bad that Google isn’t calling this anything other than a “prototype,” or putting its weight behind the idea in fuller force. Hopefully, that just means the company is polishing the idea further. And while we await Google’s next steps in AR, the company has invited any developer who is interested to play with the technology themselves.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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