With social distancing for our current global pandemic for COVID-19, augmented reality seems to have found a place to be helpful in the real world. An “Experiments with Google” app called Sodar works with WebXR to show a 2-meter circle around the user, with augmented reality.
You’ll need a supported device to make this work – but if you’ve got a device like that, this could be a real help. Not that you’ll be able to use the augmented reality ring to keep others away from you, but it’ll certainly give you a real visual guide showing the distance you SHOULD be from everyone out around you in the real world.
Sodar is a free web app. You’ll be using the app with your Chrome web browser on a supported Android device. Head over to Sodar.WithGoogle.com to get onboard with the experiment. This app creates a virtual “ring” around you that you can see through your phone’s display – it SHOULD show the recommended distance at which you’ll be safe from your everyday average nearby citizen who might have COVID-19.
This is one of the few ways in which augmented reality can provide value to users in the real world… outside of gaming. The vast majority of use cases for augmented reality applications released for smartphones have been for games and shopping. You can only place an augmented reality framed painting on your wall so many times before you start to expect something more useful with the tech.
Now, if only we could get some more awesome usability with apps beyond experiments. Something like a DIY Augmented Reality eyepatch, perhaps? Something that can take the dream that was Google Glass and make it a reality? Maybe another major party needs to jump in the game – a major party like Apple and their upcoming Apple Glasses?