After months spent in limbo and not a single new compatible device, Google is finally shutting its Tango augmented reality platform down for good, effective 1 March 2018.
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Federico Ciccarese and his company, Youbionic, imagine a not-too-distant future where everything we see is enhanced through augmented reality, and our body's ability to interact with the world is upgraded through augmented physicality. What does that look like? For starters, a $US2,000+ 3D-printed glove that puts two hands on the end of your arms, instead of just one.
Video: When you think about the early days of virtual reality, you either think of the movie The Lawnmower Man, or that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where the crew gets addicted to an augmented reality game that almost kills everyone. Which, by the way, you can now play on Microsoft's HoloLens AR headset.
Augmented reality promised us a world of whimsy not confined by the rules of science. This week, we instead got a tech behemoth promoting their struggling app by plopping virtual sculptures into already magnificent places. And the art world is already firing back.
Forget virtual reality, for now at least, because augmented reality, or AR as it is commonly known, is powering the next batch of magic tricks heading to your phone. Apple and Google are pushing the tech hard, but what's actually new about the next wave of AR? What's changed since Pontiac stuff it in the ugly Aztek or Niantic had you catching Pokemon with it in Pokemon Go? And what are you going to be able to do with it...besides game?
When you were a kid, what did you think the future would look like? Hoverboards, Back to the Future style? Flying Cars a la The Jetsons?
It's 2017 people, and look what we have here - an augmented reality Ikea experience. So that everywhere is your life can be filled with Ikea, like a disillusioned insurance worker's apartment shortly before starting an underground Fight Club.
Flashlights and toy lightsaber might do a decent job of making you feel like a Jedi when you're twelve, and fancy prop reproductions might do the job when you're adult. But it is all still make believe. You're not taking on Darth Vader in your living room, you're waving a toy and making "vrm vrrm" noises. A new augmented reality game from Disney hopes to change that. Star Wars: Jedi Challenges is Disney's first standalone augmented reality machine. Created in conjunction with Lenovo, it's a $US200 set that includes a headset, tracking beacon and lightsaber remote. Pop your Android or iOS phone into the headset, put the beacon on the floor, ignite the lightsaber and your path to becoming a Jedi Master begins.
This isn't hyperbole. Between Apple's ARKit and the new ARCore tool announced by Google, a viable form of augmented reality, the ability to witness an computer-augmented version of our world is about to come to a whole lot of phones, and will be available on every Android and iOS phones going forward. That sci-fi future crappy movies in the '90s promised us is perilously close.
One of the most memorable music videos of the 1980s is A-ha's "Take On Me" featuring a young woman who's pulled into a world that looks like it only exists as crude pencil sketches. The video took 16 weeks to animate by hand, but Trixi Studios created an augmented reality app that can recreate the effect in real-time.
You might be tempted to think this is just a cool experiment, but don't be surprised when Mark Zuckerberg rips it off and it's suddenly packaged with Instagram.
The pitch was Pokemon GO meets Call of Duty. I couldn't quite fathom how that would turn into a cool as hell game, but it involved augmented reality, a key feature of Pokemon GO, and laser tag, and those are both very fun things. Then I sat down with the team from Skyrocket and got to actually hold one of the guns from its new Recoil laser tag system. "It's AR adjacent," the PR rep said. My interest plummeted, but I gamely let them set up the demo and tried to play for an hour. While it quickly became clear this was only Pokemon GO meets Call of Duty in the most high brow theoretical sense, it was also clear that Recoil could be the best backyard laser tag system built yet.
With the introduction of iOS 11 and a development tool called ARKit, Apple is betting that augmented reality could be the next revolutionary feature for smartphones. At the very least, it's facilitated a secret feature that lets iPhone users pretend they're giant monsters stomping through a tiny city.