With a global pandemic still keeping lock-down many nations, social distancing has become the new standard every time we step outside our homes.
Some find it easier than others, and in case the lines outside the supermarket have not helped you to work out what two meters look like, the government has issued some useful tips: imagine the length of a bed , two benches, three fridges or four chairs, and keep constantly between other people and yourself.
Keep 2 metres apart when you go outside. That’s:
🔴 1 bed
🔴 2 benches
🔴 3 fridges
🔴 4 chairs#StayAlert
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) May 22, 2020
Google has come up with a slightly better alternative if that still doesn’t help: the company has launched an experimental tool named Sodar that uses WebXR to convert social distance rules into AR. WebXR is a basic Google launched last year in Chrome for Android.
By putting markers in AR on your real-world landscape, Sodar draws a two-meter circle around you. You can see precisely where your two-meter bubble begins and ends from your phone screen, and you can see immediately if someone dares to come in a little too close.
The tool was discovered on Twitter by the Google Account experiments run by coders trying new stuff with Chrome, AR, Android, WebVR, and AI. The functionality is by definition in its infancy, and not yet planned for mass adoption.
Sodar – use WebXR to help visualise social distancing guidelines in your environment. Using Sodar on supported mobile devices, create an augmented reality two meter radius ring around you. #hacktohelp https://t.co/Bu78QrEN9f pic.twitter.com/kufatNFDQk
— Experiments with Google (@ExpWithGoogle) May 28, 2020
It’s currently only available on Chrome and Android computers, and isn’t available as a stand-alone download. Alternatively, users will have to open a web browser and go to sodar.google.com, then allow access to their camera and, once the sensors have had time to change and the line emerges, start walking around, ready to call out anybody who gets too personal with it.
Sodar won’t work with some older devices, but the new feature will likely be compatible with any phone that supports AR for Quest. Consider Googling dogs , cats, pandas or even alpine goats if you’re uncertain, and see if you have the choice to make them come out in an AR version, superimposed on your living room sofa or kitchen table.
If not, then you’ll just have to go back to what everybody else is doing and make sure they ‘re behaving appropriately in the pandemic context: that is, imagining those fridges or seats.