On Android, augmented reality displays the limits of physical distance


Google has just launched Sodar, a new web application to help users respect physical distance. The firm uses augmented reality to display a two-meter circle around the smartphone on the ground.

Physical distancing is one of the various barrier gestures put in place to limit the spread of Covid-19. Some countries, including France, recommend a distance of at least one meter between two people, while others recommend two meters. To help assess this distance, Google launched Sodar, a tool based on augmented reality.

Sodar is an experiment by Google which displays the distance of two meters all around the user. Concretely, Google relies on WebXR, an application programming interface (API) for virtual reality and augmented reality. It is integrated into its Chrome browser, and allows you to launch an augmented reality session directly from a web page.

A tool accessible from a simple web page

Being a web application, Sodar does not require any installation. To test this tool, simply go to sodar.withgoogle.com in the Chrome browser on a compatible Android device. Then validate the permissions for the camera and augmented reality. Finally, point the device towards the ground to calibrate it, and after a few moments Sodar will draw a circle of two meters in diameter around you.

Sodar only works with an Android smartphone or tablet. Google also specifies that some devices would not be compatible, without giving more details. Since the tool is presented as an experiment, it could quickly evolve to include more devices or new functions.


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