Fun AR nerdery: How Google’s object-tracking tech works

In case you’ve ever wondered about the math behind placing, say, virtual spiders on my kid works, wonder no more: my teammates have published lots o’ details.

One of the key challenges in enabling AR features is proper anchoring of the virtual content to the real world, a process referred to as tracking. In this paper, we present a system for motion tracking, which is capable of robustly tracking planar targets and performing relative-scale 6DoF tracking without calibration. Our system runs in real-time on mobile phones and has been deployed in multiple major products on hundreds of millions of devices.

You can play with the feature via Motion Stills for Android and Playground for Pixel phones. 

I can haz cheeseburgAR?

Here’s an… appetizing one? The LA Times is offering “an augmented reality check on our favorite burgers.”


I’ve gotta say, they look pretty gnarly in 3D (below). I wonder whether these creepy photogrammetry(?)-produced results are net-appealing to customers. I have the same question about AR clothing try-on: even if we make it magically super accurate, do I really want to see my imperfect self rocking some blazer or watch, or would I rather see a photo of Daniel Craig doing it & just buy the dream that I’ll look similar?

Fortunately, I found the visual appearance much more pleasing when rendered in AR on my phone vs. when rendered in 3D on my Mac, at least unless I zoomed in excessively.


Set Drone Controls For The Heart OF The Sun

“If you want to be a better photographer, [fly] in front of more interesting things…” This eclipse hyperlapse is rad:

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to work but I didn’t want to use it manually because I wanted to watch what was my first-ever eclipse,” [photographer Matt] Robinson tells PetaPixel. “Around 10 minutes before totality, the drone was sent up above our camp and programmed to fly along and above the spectacular Elqui Valley in Chile.


Google Lens makes the NYT… Stranger

Let’s get upside down, baby. The AR tracking & rendering tech we’ve been making is bringing printed ads to life:

Inside the NYT, readers will find a full page ad in the Main News section and quarter page ads both in Arts and Business sections of the paper with a CTA encouraging readers to scan the ads with Google Lens, where they might find that things are stranger than they seem. 🙃

Tangentially related: this is bonkers: