Google's new Visual Positioning Service will guide you through indoor locations

Angelica Greene
May 19, 2017

Virtual reality might be generating the headlines in the PC and mobile spaces, but augmented reality is an equally, if not more, exciting prospect that's also gaining a foothold in the here and now.

Google has announced it's working on a service to offer detailed indoor location positioning using its Tango 3D sensing computer vision tech. 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?

"GPS can get you to the door". Instead, it works by leveraging a Tango camera which is capable of triangulating position based upon the distinct visual features in the room.

The example showcased at I/O saw VPS seek out a screwdriver inside a Lowe's Home Improvement store.

An example of how VPS helps you navigate indoors (Credit:Google) Google calls the feature VPS, a version of Global Positioning System that stands for Visual Positional Service.

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Google is going to be combining the visual directions with audio interfaces as an option for accessibility to help visually-impaired people navigate through the world. It will also be "one of the core capabilities of Google Lens"-a new image recognition initiative also announced today".

As with all things VR and AR related, Google's vice president of VR, Clay Bavor made the announcement earlier today, calling it the 'ultimate show and tell.' Expeditions has allowed students to take virtual field trips using Google Cardboard without leaving the classroom, with Google claiming 2 million so far.

One thing we've seen clearly is that AR is most powerful when it's tightly coupled to the real world, and the more precisely the better.

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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