Smartphone users beware: Google has launched a set of augmented reality (AR) features across its devices ahead of Halloween - including 3D ghosts in your own room.

When users search for certain keywords related to Halloween, Google notifies the user about its Google Doodle game featuring the wizard cat "Momo" from 2016, as well as an option to "Summon up a 3D ghost." Clicking the option will first require you to move the camera around before displaying an augmented reality ghost in your space. The fun feature also allows you to choose which model to display - from ghosts to skeletons.

After "finding" the ghosts in your own three-dimensional, 360-degree view, Halloween music also starts to play in the background. Users can also drag the virtual visitor, turning them on other angles and even dragging them across the space.

TechCrunch notes that there is no definitive list for all the Halloween-themed surprises offered by Google, leaving users to search and stumble upon them. Additionally, its other apps and devices are also fitted with seasonal features such as new doorbell ringtone for its Google Nest Hello devices and the holiday riddles from Google Assistant.


Google's Augmented Reality: From Education to Entertainment

The tech company has been active in the development of AR for a variety of applications. As it explains on its website, "Augmented reality overlays digital content and information onto the physical world." Prior to the augmented reality ghosts for this Halloween, Google Search has incorporated its AR tech to place 3D versions of different search topics - from animals to updates on NASA's Curiosity rover.

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Starting in May 2019, Google announced during its I/O developers conference that it would be adding augmented reality to its search engine. It was soon followed by the rollout of the ARCore - an augmented reality add-on available for both Android and iOS devices.Aside from enabling its own AR features, ARCore is a software development kit that allows independent programmers to develop their own applications using the technology. For compatible devices, users will only need to search the animal and if a 3D model is available, the search engine will offer users to "meet a life-sized" version of the animal through their phone cameras.

Other applications include an updated Live View for its navigation platform Google Maps. For Maps users with the updated Google Street and bright outdoor lights, they can actually see the directions to their destinations in augmented reality, on top of the classic 2D map.


Research Trends in Augmented Reality

A previous study from National Taiwan University and the School of Built Environment in Curtin University observes trends in the use of augmented reality and its implications in the fields of architecture, engineering, construction, and facility management. Focusing on four specific aspects of the technology - localization, cloud computing, mobile devices, and natural user interface - researchers poured over 101 prior research works on the topics and outlined trends and opportunities of AR in the aforementioned fields. Augmented reality has the potential to adapt to complex environments and provide intuitive experiences for the users.

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Check out more news and information on Augmented Reality in Science Times.