Improving shared AR experiences with Cloud Anchors in ARCore 1.20

Posted by Eric Lai, Product Manager, Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) can help you explore the world around you in new, seemingly magical ways. Whether you want to venture through the Earth’s unique habitats, explore historic cultures or even just find the shortest path to your destination, there’s no shortage of ways that AR can help you interact with the world.

That’s why we’re constantly improving ARCore — so developers can build amazing AR experiences that help us reimagine what’s possible.

In 2018, we introduced the Cloud Anchors API in ARCore, which lets people across devices view and share the same AR content in real-world spaces. Since then, we’ve been working on new ways for developers to use Cloud Anchors to make AR content persist and more easily discoverable.

Create long-lasting AR experiences

Last year, we previewed persistent Cloud Anchors, which lets people return to shared AR experiences again and again. With ARCore 1.20, this feature is now widely available to Android, iOS, and Unity mobile developers.

Developers all over the world are already using this technology to help people learn, share and engage with the world around them in new ways.

MARK, which we highlighted last year, is a social platform that lets people leave AR messages in real-world locations for friends, family and their community to discover. MARK is now available globally and will be launching the MARK Hope Campaign in the US to help people raise funds for their favorite charities and have their donations matched for a limited time.

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MARK by People Sharing Streetart Together Limited

REWILD Our Planet is an AR nature series produced by Melbourne based studio PHORIA. The experience is based on the Netflix original documentary series Our Planet. REWILD uses Ultra High Definition Video alongside AR content to let you venture into earth’s unique habitats and interact with endangered wildlife. It originally launched in museums, but can now be enjoyed on your smartphone in your living room. As episodes of the show are released, persistent Cloud Anchors allow you to return to the same spot in your own home to see how nature is changing.

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REWILD Our Planet by PHORIA

Changdeok ARirang is an AR tour guide app that combines the power of SK Telecom’s 5G with persistent Cloud Anchors. Visitors at Changdeokgung Palace in South Korea are guided by the legendary Haechi to relevant locations where they can experience historical and cultural high fidelity AR content. Changdeok ARirang at Home was also launched so that this same experience can be accessed from the comfort of your couch.

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Changdeok ARirang by SK Telecom

In Sweden, SJ Labs, the innovation arm of Swedish Railways, together with Bontouch, their tech innovation partner, uses persistent Cloud Anchors to help passengers find their way at Central Station in Stockholm, making it easier and faster for them to make their train departures.

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SJ Labs by SJ – Swedish Railways

Coming soon, Lowe’s Persistent View will let you design your home in AR with the help of an expert. You’ll be able to add furniture and appliances to different areas of your home to see how they’d look, and return to the experience as many times as needed before making a purchase.

AR example

Lowe’s Persistent View powered by Streem

If you’re interested in building AR experiences that last over time, you can learn more about persistent Cloud Anchors in our docs.

Call for collaborators: test a new way to find AR content

As developers use Cloud Anchors to attach more AR experiences to the world, we also want to make it easier for people to discover them. That’s why we’re working on earth Cloud Anchors, a new feature that uses AR and global localization—the underlying technology that powers Live View features on Google Maps—to easily guide users to AR content. If you’re interested in early access to test this feature, you can apply here.

Some earth Cloud Anchors concepts

ARCore updates to Augmented Faces and Cloud Anchors enable new shared cross-platform experiences

Posted by Christina Tong, Product Manager, Augmented Reality

Two years ago, we launched ARCore, our developer platform for building augmented reality (AR) experiences. Since then, we’ve seen developers create thousands of AR apps across Android and iOS that transform the way people play, shop, learn and create together. To enable even more shared cross-platform AR experiences, we’re announcing new updates to ARCore’s Augmented Faces and Cloud Anchors APIs.

Augmented Faces on iOS

Earlier this year, we announced our Augmented Faces API, which offers a high-quality, 468-point 3D mesh that lets users attach fun effects to their faces — all without a depth sensor on their smartphone. With the addition of iOS support rolling out today, developers can now create effects for more than a billion users. We’ve also made the creation process easier for both iOS and Android developers with a new face effects template.

Improvements to Cloud Anchors

Last year, we introduced the Cloud Anchors API, which lets developers create shared AR experiences across Android and iOS. Cloud Anchors let devices create a 3D feature map from visual data onto which anchors can be placed. The anchors are hosted in the cloud so multiple people can use them to enable shared real world experiences. Cloud Anchors power a wide variety of cross-platform apps, like Just a Line, PHAROS AR and Spacecraft AR.

In our latest ARCore update, we’ve made some improvements to the Cloud Anchors API that make hosting and resolving anchors more efficient and robust. This is due to improved anchor creation and visual processing in the cloud. Now, when creating an anchor, more angles across larger areas in the scene can be captured for a more robust 3D feature map. Once the map is created, the visual data used to create the map is deleted and only anchor IDs are shared with other devices to be resolved. Moreover, multiple anchors in the scene can now be resolved simultaneously, reducing the time needed to start a shared AR experience.

These updates to Cloud Anchors are available for developers today.

Persistent Cloud Anchors and Call for Collaborators

As we look to the future, we’re taking steps to expand the scale and timeline of shared AR experiences with persistent Cloud Anchors. We see this as enabling a “save button” for AR, so that digital information overlaid on top of the real world can be experienced at anytime.

Imagine working together on a redesign of your home throughout the year, leaving AR notes for your friends around an amusement park, or hiding AR objects at specific places around the world to be discovered by others.

Persistent Cloud Anchors are powering Mark AR, a social app being developed by Sybo and iDreamSky that lets people create, discover, and share their AR art with friends and followers in real-world locations. With persistent Cloud Anchors, users can continuously return back to their pieces as they create and collaborate over time.

Mark AR phone demonstration

Mark AR is an app that lets people create and discover AR art in real-world locations.

Reliably anchoring AR content for every use case—regardless of surface, distance, and time—pushes the limits of computation and computer vision because the real world is diverse and always changing. By enabling a “save button” for AR, we’re taking an important step toward bridging the digital and physical worlds to expand the ways AR can be useful in our day-to-day lives.

We’re currently looking for more developers to help us explore and test persistent Cloud Anchors in real world apps at scale, before making the feature broadly available. If you’re interested in early access, you can apply here.