Virtual and augmented reality, collectively known as mixed reality (MR) or, more recently, “extended reality” or XR, always had the potential to make life not only more fun but also more productive. Most applications, however, may have focused too much on the “fun” aspect, making most people presume the technologies are mostly just for entertainment. These experiences can, of course, be quite interesting but Google’s latest WebXR experiments for smartphones try to prove how they can be educational as well.
WebXR refers to the technologies being developed to enable VR and AR experiences inside web browsers. While this does make extended reality experiences more accessible to anyone with a device capable of running a web browser, these mostly still need the right hardware like cameras and sensors to work properly. And what other device is there that has all of that in one portable package than the smartphone in your pocket?
That is exactly what Google’s WebXR experiments try to do, bringing those digitally augmented experiences to your smartphones so you can use them anywhere needed. One of those, SODAR, was launched last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as a hi-tech way for people to practice physical distancing. Measure Up, on the other hand, uses your phone’s cameras and sensors to measure the height of almost anything that stands, no tape or stick required.
New to the group is Floom, which gives you a peek at what’s on the other side of the world exactly where you’re standing, making it look like you have drilled a hole through the Earth. Not yet available is Picturescape that places your photos as floating portraits around the real world.
Although not exactly groundbreaking nor astounding but they do give a preview of what could be possible when developers put their heads and imaginations together. These WebXR experiments can be run on supported Android phones but only in Chrome.