Sunday Tech Byte: Google ARCore…what is it?

Basically, ARCore is Google’s platform for building augmented reality experiences. Using different APIs, ARCore enables your phone to sense its environment, understand the world and interact with information. Some of the APIs are available across Android and iOS to enable shared AR experiences.

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ARCore uses three different ways to mix the real world with virtual content.

These include

  • Motion tracking allows the phone to understand and track its position relative to the world.
  • Environmental understanding allows the phone to detect the size and location of all type of surfaces: horizontal, vertical and angled surfaces like the ground, a coffee table or walls.
  • Light estimation allows the phone to estimate the environment’s current lighting conditions.

ARCore is designed to work on many of the latest flagship smartphones, most of which that run above Android 7.0 (Nougat).

How does it work?

Fundamentally, ARCore is doing two things: tracking the position of the mobile device as it moves, and building its own understanding of the real world.

ARCore’s motion tracking technology uses the phone’s camera to identify interesting points, called features, and tracks how those points move over time. With a combination of the movement of these points and readings from the phone’s inertial sensors, ARCore determines both the position and orientation of the phone as it moves through space.

In addition to identifying key points, ARCore can detect flat surfaces, like a table or the floor, and can also estimate the average lighting in the area around it. These capabilities combine to enable ARCore to build its own understanding of the world around it.

ARCore’s understanding of the real world lets you place objects, annotations, or other information in a way that integrates seamlessly with the real world. You can place a napping kitten on the corner of your coffee table, or annotate a painting with biographical information about the artist. Motion tracking means that you can move around and view these objects from any angle, and even if you turn around and leave the room, when you come back, the kitten or annotation will be right where you left it.

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Sunday Tech Byte: Secure Mobile Payments

As we move towards the future, emerging mobile payment technologies are trying to change the way we spend money and hopefully simplify it. Companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google have all launched their own versions of this concept.

One thing that they all do similarly is how they process your payments. Once you link a card to the app, you can pay at millions of stores through NFC or MST (for Samsung phones). The phone transmits a tokenized version of your card number, to the payment terminal, which keeps the entire transaction secure. This token is then refreshed for the next payment. If a company gets hacked and card details get leaked, the thief won’t be able to use it as it can only be used once. Mobile payments also require you to use more advanced forms of identification. Compared to a debit card where a 4 digit pin is required, biometric authentication can be set as default for mobile payments.

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The only limitations that come with using a phone to pay is that it is not accepted everywhere. Some companies such as Samsung are using new technology like MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) to make it possible to pay anywhere a card can be used. As time passes, these limitations will likely disappear and retailers will adapt to this more secure standard.

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