Google has announced that the Google Expeditions app for Android has received a new update which brings augmented reality (AR) tours to all users. The new update also adds the ability for users to search for new tours, locate the tours they have previously saved, and set off for an adventure, albeit virtually.
The launch of AR tours on the Google Expeditions app is just one of several ways through which the search giant wants to help teachers combine their lessons with digital objects in three-dimensional form as part of the Google Expeditions AR Pioneer Program announced at the Google I/O conference in May last year. During the event, Google’s Vice President of Virtual Reality, Clay Bavor, said that Google's educational Expeditions app would be expanded to include an AR mode, allowing students to experience virtual reality field trips using the Google Cardboard headset. The tool provides the ability to tour a wide variety of virtual locations. The app was launched three years ago at Google's annual event, and today it is being used by millions of students worldwide. The AR mode on the Google Expeditions app uses Tango technology from Google’s Pioneer program. Tango is, of course, an augmented reality computer platform which allows various devices such as smartphones and tablets to detect their position relative to their surroundings through the use of positional tracking, instead of GPS. The platform leverages that ability to map the areas of each individual classroom and put the 3D objects on certain points, letting students use Tango-compatible smartphones to view various 3D models of objects for educational purposes. Students can simply point the AR-ready device at the assigned points within the classroom in order to view the interactive objects in their entirety.
Google Expeditions' vast repository of more than 100 AR and 800 virtual reality (VR) tours have been created by Google Arts & Culture partners such as the Smithsonian Freer|Sackler, Museo Dolores Olmedo, and Smarthistory, among others. Keep in mind, though, that the AR expeditions only work with an eligible Android device equipped with the ARCore platform for building AR experiences. Additionally, the first Expeditions AR/VR kits from Best Buy Education are available to purchase for all schools.