ARCore: Augmented reality at Android scale

Posted by Dave Burke, VP, Android Engineering

With more than two billion active devices, Android is the largest mobile
platform in the world. And for the past nine years, we've worked to create a
rich set of tools, frameworks and APIs that deliver developers' creations to
people everywhere. Today, we're href="">releasing a preview of a new
software development kit (SDK) called ARCore. It brings augmented reality
capabilities to existing and future Android phones. Developers can start
experimenting with it right now.

We've been developing the fundamental technologies that power mobile AR over the
last three years with Tango, and ARCore is built on that work. But, it works
without any additional hardware, which means it can scale across the Android
ecosystem. ARCore will run on millions of devices, starting today with the Pixel
and Samsung's S8, running 7.0 Nougat and above. We're targeting 100 million
devices at the end of the preview. We're working with manufacturers like
Samsung, Huawei, LG, ASUS and others to make this possible with a consistent bar
for quality and high performance.

ARCore works with Java/OpenGL, Unity and Unreal and focuses on three things:

  • Motion tracking: Using the
    phone's camera to observe feature points in the room and IMU sensor data, ARCore
    determines both the position and orientation (pose) of the phone as it moves.
    Virtual objects remain accurately placed.
  • Environmental understanding:
    It's common for AR objects to be placed on a floor or a table. ARCore can detect
    horizontal surfaces using the same feature points it uses for motion tracking.
  • Light estimation: ARCore
    observes the ambient light in the environment and makes it possible for
    developers to light virtual objects in ways that match their surroundings,
    making their appearance even more realistic.

Alongside ARCore, we've been investing in apps and services which will further
support developers in creating great AR experiences. We built href="">Blocks and href="">Tilt Brush to make it easy for anyone to
quickly create great 3D content for use in AR apps. As we href="">mentioned
at I/O, we're also working on Visual Positioning Service (VPS), a service
which will enable world scale AR experiences well beyond a tabletop. And we
think the Web will be a critical component of the future of AR, so we're also
releasing prototype browsers for web developers so they can start experimenting
with AR, too. These custom browsers allow developers to create AR-enhanced
websites and run them on both Android/ARCore and iOS/ARKit.

ARCore is our next step in bringing AR to everyone, and we'll have more to share
later this year. Let us know what you think through href="">GitHub, and check outhref=""> our new AR Experiments showcase
where you can find some fun examples of what's possible. Show us what you build
on social media with #ARCore; we'll be resharing some of our favorites.

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