Google Home brings people together, in this Super Bowl ad.
TECHNOLOGY that puts dinosaurs in children’s classrooms, new furniture in your lounge and lets you try on clothes without leaving your house will be available this year and represents the next evolution in smartphones, according to Google.
And Australians appear ready to embrace the technology, with new research showing more than half expected it to change the way we shop.
But this “immersive computing” will come at a cost, with schools and home shoppers asked to pay more for the smartphones that deliver the out-of-this-world or try-before-you-buy experiences.
Google demonstrated the new virtual reality and augmented reality experiences at its annual developers’ conference in Silicon Valley today (Friday), revealing serious investment in the technology.
One app created by clothing chain Gap lets you create a 3D mannequin based on your measurements and virtually try on clothes to see how they sit on your digital lookalike.
Google technical program lead Johnny Lee said the DressingRoom app could help shoppers and retailers alike.
“Shopping for clothes is really challenging,” he said.
“Online retailers know that buying clothes that are the right fit is difficult and customers often return these items but this is expensive for the retailer to process. It would be nice to get a better sense of whether a product will fit before you buy it.”
The technology will also be used in schools, Google virtual reality vice-president Clay Bavor said, with a new product called Expeditions allowing teachers to map classrooms and place anything from a cyclone to priceless work of art in the room that could be viewed through a smartphone.
Students could wave the phone in front of the virtual item to inspect it up close, he said, and from different angles.
“The first version (of this technology) could kind of teleport a classroom to the Galápagos Islands or the Sydney Opera House or the Great Wall using virtual reality,” Mr Bavor said.
“With augmented reality, you can bring 3D objects and put them right in the middle of the classroom. Those could be sculptures and antiquities that are so rare you can only get 10ft from them in museums or the Roman Colosseum to understand how it looks spacially.”
Google also showed off 3D maps of hardware stores that could show shoppers where to find items, and a way to place virtual furniture into lounge rooms to see whether tables, chairs or shelves fit into real spaces.
A new study by payment processing firm WorldPay found 61 per cent of Australians believed augmented and virtual reality apps could change the way they shopped, and more than half believed it would become as popular as smartphones.
But the technology will come at a greater cost. Google’s new apps will be delivered inside the ASUS ZenFone AR when it launches later this year, but it requires a depth sensor and two cameras to deliver new experiences.
Mr Bavor said even though the technology would launch soon, it might not become common for a few years yet.
“I think we’re a long way off from reaching the iPhone moment for (virtual reality),” he said.
“We’re still in the very early days. I think the key thing will be the cost of the devices.”
* Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to Silicon Valley as a guest of Google