Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Google's Tango Visual Positioning Service is like an indoor GPS


The upcoming Expeditions AR mode harnesses Google's Tango AR platform, which uses Visual Positioning Service (VPS) technology to map indoor locations. At Google I/O 2017, Clay Bavor, Google's Vice President of Virtual Reality, outlined some of the new technologies and features that could help make augmented reality ... well a reality. But what happens when you arrive and you need to find a specific store in the mall or a specific item in a grocery store?

Google Tango is a smartphone-based AR platform that has the ability to map the world around you in real-time using a number of on-board sensors and the phone's camera. Holding up a VPS-enabled phone inside the store will allow the system to know exactly where you are "within a few centimetres", and will be able to direct you (based on previous collected data) to the exact tool you were searching for, sort of like an in-door GPS complete with turn-by-turn directions.

As Google described it, imagine walking into your local Lowes looking for that "one weird screwdriver thing".

The Visual Positioning Service (VPS), a business or place can provide detailed information about where to go when you get somewhere.

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An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the USA military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen. We can certainly question whether they are having much impact given the scale of the recent Ransomware attack.

Google also sees Education as an exciting avenue for its Tango technologies. Introduced two years ago for the cheap Cardboard VR headset, Expeditions has since been used by 2 million students.

Launching this fall through Google's Pioneer Program, users will be able to point their AR-ready devices at specific points in the classroom and find volcanoes, the Statue of David, DNA molecules, and more awaiting them.

In the long term, Google views both virtual and augmented reality as part of what is called "immersive computing", where devices operate in a manner that's closer to how we see and interact with the world.

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