Google may have ditched its Daydream VR platform but it’s still holding on to augmented reality, at least without the headset. Google recently released WebXR, short for Extended Reality, experiments that showcased more practical uses for AR on your phone but most of its AR experiences really revolved around entertaining or sometimes educational experiences instead. Google’s mobile Search, in particular, has been putting virtual objects in the real world via your phone’s screen, and its latest trick is to call forth Japan’s most iconic characters, wherever you are in the world.
Japan is known for many things and quite a lot of those border on the eccentric and sometimes even downright odd. Of course, Japanese franchises have spanned not decades of products, properties, and characters, and some might be more familiar to those outside of the country than others.
For example, some might not be aware that the gluttonous yellow sphere known as Pac-Man actually originated in Japan but, these days, those who do know Evangelion will have no doubts about the fictional series’ origins. From the cute Hello Kitty to the towering Gundam, Japan has been home to many artifacts of pop culture now known throughout the world. And like many such big properties, there have been real-world recreations in Japan but you don’t have to fly halfway around the world just to see them.
In fact, thanks to Google’s AR, you can actually see them right in your room or wherever you decided to point your phone’s camera to. In some cases, the characters just stand on your floor or desk, waving around, but Pac-Man’s AR “sticker” has the hero chomping pellets around a circle, followed by a Congo line of ghosts. Also, be prepared to make some room for the gigantic Ultraman should you decide to view him in his actual size.
Granted, these aren’t exactly the futuristic augmented reality applications one might imagine from science fiction and some Google Search AR stickers are designed to inform rather than just entertain. That said, it’s also good to see Google’s collection grow to cover all kinds of themes and objects, including and especially those coming from other cultures.