Google has launched a tool called SODAR that will help people maintain social distance in real life via Augmented Reality.
The corona virus pandemic has left no choice among people but to maintain a safe distance from one another so as to prevent the spreading of the virus. Under the strict guidelines issued by governments of all the nations you are required to maintain a distance of 2 meters from your fellow human beings. Several organisations are doing their part to help people maintain a safe distance and protect them from the virus. Apparently, Google has jumped into the field and is trying its best to help in the situation of crisis by developing this tool called Sodar that helps people maintain distance from one another via augmented reality. This tool was developed under “The Experiments with Google” project.
The tool does not require you to install any kind of app in your phone and it does not mandate the people around you to have phone with them. This tool called Sodar will operate with the help of your phone’s camera and it will create a visual boundary with you being in the centre of the circle showing you if anyone around are breaching the boundary. The AR tool uses WebXR technology to maintain a circle having the radius of 2 meters thus abiding by the social distancing norms. This AR technology very much resembles the one that was used in developing the game called Pokémon Go. So, basically Sodar assumes that you and your smartphone are at the same point and it creates a virtual boundary around you which can be viewed through your phone’s camera and the boundary will be moving along with you. As soon as anyone will breach the 2 meter distance from you, the tool will send the alert on your screen helping you maintain social distancing via augmented reality.
You can follow the below given steps to launch Sodar on your smartphone.
Steps to use Sodar for maintaining Social Distance
- Open your browser and visit https://sodar.withgoogle.com/
- You will see an icon labelled as LAUNCH, tap on that icon.
- A dialogue box will pop up on your screen asking for your permission to let the website create a 3D view in your surroundings by using your camera.
- Allow the permission.
- Your camera screen will be activated, now scan the ground with help of it.
- The screen will show a white circle with the distance of 2 meters and you being the centre.
- Now as you will walk you are maintaining a safe distance with other people near you.
- You will be alerted immediately as soon as someone is entering your circle.
P.S. – Currently, this tool is supported only on Android devices with latest updates.
The digital dependence has made many countries to develop apps for their citizens to track the corona virus cases as well as active patients in the vicinity. But as it seems to be the authentic use of technology, on the other hand it also violates the privacy terms of individuals as all the personal data of people is available on the apps which can be frightening as it can be used by anyone for non ethical activities. Google and Apple, the two most influential tech giants are against in using the people’s personal information and so Google’s AR tool called Sodar does not ask any private information of the user while using the tool.
Before Google, United Nations also developed an app called “1 point 5” to help people in maintaining a safe distance of 1.5 meters from one another. But this app requires Bluetooth to be ON in the devices of people around you to inform if they are entering your distance parameters. So, in a way this app partially helps its users as not all the devices have Bluetooth connectivity enabled all the time. Whereas, the AR tool of Google doesn’t even mandates the people around to have phones with them which actually helps anyone to maintain distance safely and accurately at the same point.
Google has also developed a contact tracing API (Application Programming Interface) in partnership with Apple and has made available to the health care agencies across the countries that will help the users in getting the alerts whether they have been in contact with the coronavirus patient or have contracted covid-19. The API will send the notification to the user if any of the case occurs. While maintaining the user’s privacy Apple and Google have banned tracing the location on the app. But on the other hand many Governments are using their own interface with active location tracking of the users to help them find the coronavirus hotspots within their country.
Ultimately, Social Distancing is the prioritized way of not letting the virus spread. It is not an easy adaptation for human beings and has been challenging for us to maintain the distance while interacting with others. Thus, Sodar is actually the required solution to help everyone maintain the distance from one another. Smartphone users are definitely at ease as this AR tool actually builds the 3D map around you and helps you follow the pandemic guidelines and contribute your part by maintaining the required distance from others.