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Google's New Sodar Tool Helps Android Smartphone Users Maintain Social Distancing

Sodar works through Google-made Chrome browsers on Android smartphones that support augmented reality.

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Google's New Sodar Tool Helps Android Smartphone Users Maintain Social Distancing

Google-developed Sodar tool determines distance based on pandemic social distancing guidelines

Highlights
  • Google's Sodar taps into Android smartphone cameras
  • It is using augmented reality to enable social distancing
  • Google has developed the tool under its "Experiments With Google" project

Smartphone users have a new way to keep their distance — a tool that lets them know when people are getting closer than pandemic guidelines recommend.

The Google-developed Sodar tool available this week taps into Android smartphone cameras to put users in the centre of a white circle with a radius of about two meters, or 6.5 feet.

The perimeter, determined based on pandemic social distancing guidelines, is made using the same kind of augmented reality technology in smartphone games such as Pokemon Go.

Circles superimposed on surroundings move with users, keeping smartphones in the centre. Users get a visual warning when they are within the potentially hazardous radius.

Sodar works through Google-made Chrome browsers on Android smartphones that support augmented reality, according to the California-based internet firm.

"This experiment uses (the application program interface) WebXR to visualise 2-metre social-distancing guidelines in your environment," a message at the website said.

The tool came out of an "Experiments With Google" project on technology hacks to help people cope with the coronavirus pandemic.


How are we staying sane during this Coronavirus lockdown? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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