Augmented reality (AR) is starting to become a normal feature in mobile gadgets these days, so much so that people tend to expect smartphones to have AR capabilities rather than not have them. The pressure is on now for manufacturers to deliver gadgets with AR features, and software developers to create apps that give relevant experiences through AR and fill certain needs innovatively. Day to day, the need for competent programmers who will make AR content and apps increases.
This is the rationale for “Introduction to Augmented Reality and ARCore”, a new online learning course backed Google in partnership with online education provider Coursera. The class is specially designed for people who have no prior knowledge or experience with AR, or are just getting started with the new technology. And since it is free, anyone who has the time and the determination to learn the new technology is welcome to take the course.
The point of all this – and Google’s entry point, of course – is that you might start using ARCore to build apps and content for AR. ARCore, if you didn’t know, is Google’s platform for AR on mobile devices. But it didn’t used to be ARCore, it started with Project Tango. Tango was an experimental project where Google was testing high-powered camera sensors in a mobile or tablet device for depth sensing. The depth data was incorporated with the traditional imaging data to create a sort of 3D image on your device, and use that for various apps.
Unfortunately, Tango didn’t take off like Google would have wanted. It launched with two mainstream devices – the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the ASUS Zenfone AR – and… well, nothing much else. Google then shelved Tango to focus on ARCore. ARCore is the successor of Tango in AR, and built upon foundation of Project Tango – with one small difference. ARCore was designed to be more hardware agnostic, so that it can be distributed to more devices and would not have heavy hardware requirements.
Right now ARCore is supported by a number of smartphone devices – mostly flagship ones. The hardware requirements are not very specific compared to Tango, but they do need to be robust at this point to handle AR and run the apps. The Google Play Store has a collection of apps the run on ARCore technology.
If you are interested in getting your feet wet in AR, this new Coursera class will be the best way to do it. The class takes around 15 hours to complete, so you will have to put in the time and effort – but the great thing about Coursera is that you can do it at your own pace. At the end of the course, you will learn the basics of AR technology, how to design an AR experience, and how to get started with building your own project using Google’s ARCore development kit.