Google’s AR Web App Makes You Feel the Other Side of the World Is A Click Away

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In old cartoons, there’s a trope where characters are able to dig themselves to the other side of the world.

In some cases, these characters dig a hole all the way to China. And in other cases, these characters end up in Australia or Brazil, depending on the country in which the cartoon is set. But if you’re curious to know what lies underneath — or through — the earth, if this cartoonish activity were possible for you to recreate, you can easily find out now without downloading any apps.

Currently available on the Chrome browser of Android devices, Google’s web-based augmented reality (AR) app ‘Floom’ is one of the many experiments featured on the website “Experiments with Google”. At present, the site features over 1,500 digital projects.

With Floom, users can see the land or body of water they’d end up in should they dig a hold in the ground and pursue a straightforward path until they reach the other side. You don’t even have to download anything. All you need to do is go to Floom’s website and then angle your phone camera to the view of your floor.

How Google’s AR App Lets You See the Other Side of the World

Floom’s concept is relatively novel in that no other web or mobile application is known to be like it. But interestingly, the execution of this Google AR app seems to be simple enough. According to MySmartPrice, a platform showcasing different tech products, the web app will use your GPS coordinates to calculate and determine the location on the other side of the world in a phone angle-sensitive way. So it does not show the exact opposite location from where you are, but rather from the direction your phone is aiming.

Once Floom has determined the opposite end, the app will virtually tunnel through your floor and reveal it through a portal-like AR asset. To picture how Google was able to do this, imagine designating your phone camera angle as Point A, then drawing a straight line to the farthest point in the planet, which you designate as Point B. The location Floom shows you is essentially Point B.

We were curious about the AR web app, so we had to try it out ourselves. 

Google’s web-based AR app ‘Floom’ shows you the other side of the world through your mobile device.

At first, it shows you a tornado-like tunnel ready to drill into the ground. Then, once you click the tornado, the AR asset drills down your floor, showing the location on the other side. 

Floom showing Ji-Paraná, Brazil

But it not only shows you areas from different countries; some angles actually point toward bodies of water.

According to Google, Floom was built with WebXR, an API that “allows you [to] develop and host VR and AR experiences on the web.” And it was, of course, built with Google Maps as well. But this is not the only experiment Google has shared on the website.

Some of Google’s AR Web App Experiments

On the “Experiments with Google” website, you will see 1,584 digital projects aiming to go beyond “the boundaries of art, technology, design and culture”. These so-called experiments come from different groups, and therefore different minds, exploring ways to make fun and practical tools accessible. Several of Google’s own works may even come in handy in the context of a pandemic. And who knows — this body of new work might spark innovative ideas you can apply to your AR app.

Measure Up

Measure Up’s function is summarized in a directive: “Put down the tape measure and pick up your phone!” Instead of users turning to physical measuring instruments to determine an object’s size, this web-based AR app by Google can do the calculating for you. Built with WebXR, Measure Up can easily discern the “length, area and volume of the things around you — all straight from the browser.” While it may take some time before tape measures go out of style, Measure Up shows a lot of promise.

Sodar

If there was one AR app you could have on hand nowadays, it should be Google’s Sodar. Because with this web-based AR app, you can measure what a 2 m (6.6 ft) radius looks like from where you are. According to the CDC, social distancing is practiced by staying at least 6 ft away from people. So in the event you have to go out — say, for groceries and essentials and are unsure whether someone is a little too close from where you’re standing — you can whip out your phone and use Sodar to help you take the necessary action.

AR Synth

For those seeking a creative outlet, Google’s AR Synth is a good AR web app for your musical needs. This AR web app is technically not Google’s, but artists developed it in residence at the Google Arts & Culture Lab. 

With AR Synth, you can engage with five synthesizers found in the Swiss Museum for Electronic Music Instruments, according to the experiment overview. Despite its name, AR Synth actually allows you to play the instruments with and without augmented reality technology. You have the option to create and play music either in your room (with AR) or on your browser (in 3D).

In Summary

Google’s web-based AR app ‘Floom’ is among the 1,500+ projects on the website “Experiments with Google”. It has received a ton of press coverage because of its entertaining and innovative concept. Using Floom, you are able to see what’s on the other side of the world, based on where you are and your camera angle. The app is currently accessible on the Chrome browser on Android devices.

Other experiments you will find on the website include:

  • Measure Up
  • Sodar
  • AR Synth

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Sources: Experiments with Google | Floom | Measure Up | Sodar | AR Synth | WebXR | MySmartPrice | CDC | TVTropes

Justine Jordan

Justine Jordan is a content and copy writer. She has written for a popular business daily in the Philippines and for various startups across the globe before transitioning to work for NarraSoft. She graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a bachelor's degree in journalism.