Augmented reality (AR) has long sounded like a wild, futuristic concept, but the technology has been around for years. AR is all about superimposing computer-generated images on top of your view of reality, thus creating a composite view that augments the real world.
AR apps run the gamut from interactive map overlays and virtual showrooms to massive multiplayer skirmishes. More and more AR apps are rolling out on Apple’s iOS and while Google has killed off Project Tango, ARCore is the future on Android.
Just this month, Google held its yearly I/O conference where it announced all the projects that are going down this year. And it isn’t short of AR offerings.
Google’s Weird Cuts
In addition to preserving art and historic landmarks around the world, Google’s Arts & Culture division also likes to collaborate with artists to experiment with integrations between technology and art. The latest of these efforts, a new AR app called “Weird Cuts,” was formally introduced this evening at the Google I/O developer conference.
This app is very well named, it is both fun and a little weird. You use scissors to “cut” people: a small area of the screen allows you to take a picture of what you want (a part of the face, for example) and then to make a collage in augmented reality. This can be fun (at least for the first few minutes). The developer indicates that the app is compatible with Pixel 2, Pixel 3and Pixel 3 XL specifically, but it also works on other devices such as the OnePlus 6.
The concept for the app was created by artists Zach Lieberman and Molmol Kuo, and was developed with the support of Google Arts & Culture. And it’s definitely an odd (but also fun) tool for playing around with augmented reality — without having any sort of real intention in mind beyond “making weird AR collages.”
Experiments like this, though seemingly lighthearted, are important in terms of getting a better understanding of a new technology, and how people want to interact with it. Today, many AR apps are built for specific purposes — like placing furniture in a room to see how it goes with your existing décor, or getting up-and-close with something you normally couldn’t otherwise — like the great, white shark shown in AR during yesterday’s Google I/O keynote.
Weird Cuts, meanwhile, doesn’t have any higher aim beyond just having fun and being creative.
Google’s Pharos AR
Be careful, you need a smartphone compatible with Google’s ARCore technology but today this list is quite wide and covers smartphones at all prices, you will find the complete list on our forum. A short setup precedes the game itself, you will then see a door allowing you to enter an augmented reality universe and touch glyphs, then the adventures continue in other worlds. You can play alone or with others. It’s a good game to take your first steps into augmented reality.
The app consists of two modes — a cutout mode and a collage mode.
The idea is that you should walk around and collect a bunch of different materials from the world in front of your camera’s viewfinder while in the cutout mode. These images are cut into shapes that you then assemble when you switch to collage mode. To do so, you’ll arrange your cutouts in the 3D space by moving and tapping on the phone’s screen.
You can also adjust the shapes while holding down your finger and moving up, down, left and right — for example, if you want to rotate and scale your “weird cuts” collage shapes.
The end result is a sort of multi-dimensional work of “art” (or perhaps, bit of nonsense, depending on your skill level) created with the found objects and your own improvisational efforts.
The new app, which is published by the artists but credits Google Arts & Culture, is a free download on Google Play.