Google launches experimental Sodar for social distancing measurements

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If you don’t have an idea how far away you should stay away from people during this whole physical distancing era, don’t you worry, there’s an app for that. Well, an experimental one but a browser-based app nonetheless. Google is trying out a WebXR app called Sodar (which probably means social distancing radar) to help people see how far 2 meters is. It shows you through a 3D view and when you point your phone to the ground so you probably shouldn’t use it as much unless you want to bump into things and potentially get into accidents.

One of the recommendations of health experts to stop the spread of the coronavirus is to practice social or physical distancing when in public areas. There are different recommended distances but the most common one is six feet or two meters. If you’re having trouble visualizing that, the Sodar web app is there to show you what’s an approximation of how far you should stay away from people.

It’s not an actual app but rather a WebXR program which is a VR and AR implementation on web browsers. So if you visit solar.withgoogle.com on your Chrome browser on your Android smartphone, you’ll be able to see what 2 meters from you looks like. Point your phone to the ground and it will show you a ring around you in every direction, letting you visualize what that 2 meters looks like in the real world.

Since this is something that works with your phone on the ground, you probably shouldn’t use it so much when you’re walking in public and you should definitely not use it when crossing a street that has vehicles. It’s just an Experiment with Google project to give you an augmented reality radius ring around you until you get used to maintaining that social distancing practice. It’s not meant to be used everywhere and all the time.

But in any case, this web app will only work for devices that support WebXR through Chrome and more specifically, if your device supports Google’s ARCore. It is also not an exact measurement as mobile AR technologies aren’t 100% accurate.

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