Google Sodar app practices social distancing in an odd way

Ewdison Then - May 28, 2020, 8:24 pm CDT
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Google Sodar app practices social distancing in an odd way

Remember the joke about there’s an app for almost anything and everything? Apps have become so common that it’s no longer a joke. It’s our reality already. So when an app that lets you practice social distancing pops up, it’s not really a surprise. But, as with anything related to Google, it isn’t just a simple instructional or informational app. Instead, Sodar shows you just how far you should keep people away, at least as long as you’re looking down on your phone.

Governments and health agencies all over the world have recommended keeping other people away at certain distances. Those distances may vary but the standard is usually six feet or two meters. Unless you’re carrying your very own meter stick, you might be able to easily visualize what that length really means.

Fortunately, there’s such a thing as WebXR these days. The umbrella term for VR and AR implementations on web browsers, WebXR is able to utilize the very same technologies that put realistic-looking 3D stickers overlaid on the real world. Or at least as seen through your phone, tablet, or even computer screen.

That’s exactly how Sodar, perhaps short for “social distancing radar”, works. Visit the project’s site on Chrome on Android, accept the permission to take a 3D view of your world, point it to the ground, and you’re good to go. The app will show a ring around you that marks 2 meters in every direction and follows you around when you walk

The browser-based app only works with devices that support WebXR via Chrome or, to be more exact, Google’s ARCore, which means iPhones are out of the question. Given current mobile AR technologies, it shouldn’t be taken as an exact measurement either. More importantly, people should take care when using the app as it carries the same risks when using your phone for anything else while walking.


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