In 2014, Google presented its ambitious Project Tango to the public. The company planned to teach electronic devices to see the world 'like a person'. By and large, Project Tango is a computer vision platform for mobile devices. Within the framework of this project, several devices were released, including commercial ones, such as Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and ASUS ZenFone AR, which, thanks to special algorithms and the presence of additional cameras and sensors, could perceive the surrounding reality in volume, and also build a virtual model based on the 'seen'.
However, despite all the revolutionary nature and novelty, the result of the development of the project was its closure. By the way, an interesting fact is the information about who is behind the emergence of this project – this is the company Motorola Mobility, which more than once or twice was the first to invent technologies that were ahead of their time, but never managed to make most of them popular. This was usually done well by followers who reinvented these technologies while also inventing use cases for them.
However, Project Tango, even after being closed, has not sunk into oblivion. A new augmented reality platform, ARCore, appeared on its basis.
The main advantage of the new platform is its versatility – almost any smartphone based on Android 7.0 and higher will work for it.
Today I would like to tell you about one of the applications running on the new ARCore platform – Google Measure, the name of which literally translates as 'measure' or 'measure'.
The main functionality of the application becomes clear from the name, so when you get acquainted with its capabilities, you do not expect something impressive, since the Play Market application store is full of 'analogues' that offer to perform remote measurement of objects using the device's camera. This feeling lasts exactly until you try the Google app in action.
At the moment, the application is officially available on a limited number of devices, including Google's Pixel smartphones and the Samsung Galaxy S9. However, an inquiring mind will always find a solution – the application can be downloaded from third-party resources. We enter Google Measure in the search engine, download and install.
After installation and launch, the application will ask for access to the camera.
Then a short instruction will appear, revealing the capabilities of the application, after which it will need access to the device's memory.
Memory access is needed in order to save photographs (screenshots) of the measurements performed.
Allowing and preparing for miracles. But it was not there. The application requires the ARCore core to work correctly.
Everything is simple here, you don't have to look for anything – if you agree to install the kernel, the application will automatically transfer you to the kernel download page in the Play Market.
Install, look for the Measure application in the list and finally launch it.
When you start the application, the camera viewfinder will open and you will be prompted to move the phone in a circle, as if scanning the surface in front of you.
After the surface is defined, a drawing of dots will appear on it, indicating the fact of capturing the measurement area. If there are several surfaces, the application will mark them with points of different diameters.
After that, you can start measuring. To do this, there are two tools at the bottom of the screen – 'length' and 'height'.
Just drag the necessary tool onto the screen, stretch it from the beginning to the end of the object being measured and immediately see its dimensions. You need to pull on the white rings at the ends of the tool.
The measurement accuracy is +/- 1 cm, which is very, very good for such an instrument. This is how the app measured a 40 cm ruler. I'm impressed, but you?
As I wrote above, the measurement result can be saved by clicking on the camera icon at the top of the screen.
In addition, the application has a number of settings, the main of which is the choice of the unit of measurement. It can be metric or imperial system.
On the one hand, there is nothing supernatural in the application, on the other hand, the way it works is very impressive to me personally. The main feature is that even if you move the smartphone closer or away from the measured object, the application does not lose the measurement object, saving the marks you set in real time. Moreover, this is true even for a situation when the measured object is outside the camera's field of view for some time (for example, when it was necessary to turn away from the object) – the marks do not go astray.
Due to the fact that the application builds a three-dimensional coordinate system, you can measure not only the length, but also the height of objects. The accuracy is the same.
Empirically, I found out that the distance at which the application is able to take measurements primarily depends on the presence of visible planes, and therefore, the ability of the application to catch on to these reference coordinates. Measurements are best carried out on devices with cameras equipped with a laser rangefinder – and this is understandable.
Someone may be left indifferent by such capabilities of an ordinary phone, while others, on the contrary, may be impressed. Personally, I belong to the second category – I am very impressed with the work done by the staff of the research laboratory 'X'. The main thing, as usual, is hidden inside. Once again, there are a large number of applications in the app store that perform similar tasks, but none of them do it like Measure. All this thanks to the core of ARCore.
Thanks to free access to the ARCore core, third-party developers have the opportunity to create their own applications using the capabilities of the core. And they did not fail to take advantage of this – applications based on this core with similar functionality have already begun to appear in PlayMarket, however, so far the application from Google is working better and faster.
I am sure that over time, the capabilities of the kernel will increase, acquiring new functionality, and the functions available today will develop and improve. It is difficult to say where this will lead, perhaps to the creation of new scenarios for using a smartphone, and perhaps it will remain pampering and technology for the sake of technology (unlikely). One thing is for sure – the development does not stop, and technologies, which recently seemed fantastic, appear in everyday life, becoming a part of it, and this cannot but rejoice.