Monthly Archives: May 2020

Google releases “Sodar,” visualizing social distancing via WebXR

It’s as much about testing/showcasing emerging standards as anything. Per The Verge:

If you’ve got an Android device, just open up the Chrome browser and go to goo.gle/sodar to launch the tool, named SODAR. There’s no app required, though it won’t work on iOS or older Android devices. Your phone will use augmented reality to map the space around you, superimposing a two-meter radius circle on the view from your camera.

Garments strut on their own in a 3D fashion show

No models, no problem: Congolese designer Anifa Mvuemba used software to show off her designs swaying in virtual space:

https://twitter.com/goatsandbacon/status/1264697586755047425?s=20

Cool context:

Inspired by her hometown in Congo, Anifa was intentional about shedding light on issues facing the Central African country with a short documentary at the start of the show. From mineral site conditions to the women and children who suffer as a result of these issues, Anifa’s mission was to educate before debuting any clothes. “Serving was a big part of who I am, and what I want to do,” she said in the short documentary.

Google Maps adds wheelchair accessibility info

Last year I mentioned the story of how my colleague Sasha Blair-Goldensohn has used his experience of using a wheelchair to make Maps help make the world easier to navigate. Now Sasha is sharing some good news:

People can now turn on an “Accessible Places” feature to have wheelchair accessibility information more prominently displayed in Google Maps. When Accessible Places is switched on, a wheelchair icon will indicate an accessible entrance and you’ll be able to see if a place has accessible seating, restrooms or parking. If it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, we’ll show that information on Maps as well.

It’s cool to see what a community-powered effort this is:

Today, Google Maps has wheelchair accessibility information for more than 15 million places around the world. That number has more than doubled since 2017 thanks to the dedication of more than 120 million Local Guides and others who’ve responded to our call to share accessibility information. In total, this community has contributed more than 500 million wheelchair accessibility updates to Google Maps. Store owners have also helped, using Google My Business to add accessibility information for their business profiles to help users needing stair-free access find them on Google Maps and Search.

Katy Perry live pushes the limits of mixed-reality storytelling

I can’t say I love the song, but props to the whole team who pulled off this ambitious set piece:

As VR Scout notes,

With the exception of a single yellow chair, it appears as though every visual shown during the performance was generated in post. What really sells the performance, however, is the choreography. Throughout the entirety of the performance, Perry reacts and responds to every visual element shown “on-stage”.

Action Blocks make tasks more accessible for those with cognitive impairments

I’ve long joked-not-joked that I want better parental controls on devices, not so that I can control my kids but so that I can help my parents. How great would it be to be able to configure something like this, then push it to the devices of those who need it (parents, kids, etc.)?

Google Photos enables more private album sharing

It’s always been easy to create a sharable link for your albums, but it wasn’t possible to prevent others from resharing that link. Now Photos offers more control:

Last December, we launched direct sharing to make it easy to share one-off photos and videos in Google Photos by adding them to an ongoing, private conversation in the app. Today, we’re bringing a similar experience to shared albums. Rolling out this week, when sharing an album, the default option will be to share with a specific person or people via their Google account. This gives you more control over who’s added to the album.