Google abandons Project Tango, takes on Apple’s ARKit with hardware-independent ARCore

While Microsoft’s HoloLens still offers the best augmented reality experience it is being rapidly overtaken by hardware-agnostic phone-based mixed reality like Snapchat and of course Apple’s ARKit.

Up till now Google’s version of Mixed Reality was also tied to hardware, via its Project Tango phones, which feature special depth-sensing cameras.

Google has now however responded to the changing tide by releasing ARCore, their answer to ARKit, which will not need special hardware or cameras to insert digital object in the real world.

“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,” says Android Engineering VP Dave Burke.

Like ARKit the SDK will use the sensors in the phone (accelerometer and gyroscope) and the built-in camera to determine orientation, detect surfaces and even measure ambient light to aid in realistic object rendering.

ARCore will support existing phones, including currently Google’s Pixel phones, and Samsung’s S8 running 7.0 Nougat and above, with more devices being added over time.

“We’re targeting 100 million devices at the end of the preview,” Burke writes. “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.”

A preview of the technology is available to developers today and supports Java/OpenGL, Unity, and Unreal AR development tools. Developers who have already developed on the Tango platform can use that experience to help them create on the ARCore platform.

See the technology demoed below:

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