Until new mass-market form factors arrive, augmented reality today primarily exists on phones. At I/O 2021, Google provided an update on ARCore and released the latest 1.24 capabilities to make possible more immersive experiences. 

ARCore has seen over 1 billion lifetime installs since it launched three years ago. Today, 850 million Android devices are certified to run ARCore and access experiences like 3D animals in Google Search.

Building on the Depth API introduced last year that allows detection without special sensors and just a single camera, ARCore 1.24 introduces a Raw Depth API. This allows for “more detailed representations of the geometry of objects in the scene,” and in turn more accurate depth measurements and spatial awareness. Another benefit is being able to mark/sense surfaces that aren’t perfectly flat or distinguished by texture.

The raw depth map, which includes unsmoothed data points, is additionally accompanied by a confidence image. That allows developers to filter depth data in real time and just have apps react to high-confidence measurements.

ARCore 1.24

To improve the development process, ARCore 1.24 adds a Recording and Playback API. In addition to capturing, IMU and depth sensor data are also recorded. It can be accessed during playback to easily “duplicate the exact same scenario and test the experience.” 

DiDi used the Recording and Playback API to build and test AR directions in their DiDi-Rider app. They were able to save 25% on R&D and testing costs, 60% on travel costs, and accelerated their development cycle by 6 months.

Besides helping developers, apps can use this feature to allow users to record a scene and add objects into it after the fact.

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