This Google AR Tool Uses Your Phone’s Camera To Visualize COVID-19 Social Distancing


Social distancing is the norm around the United States and the world right now. People have been told to maintain a 6-foot perimeter around themselves and anyone else to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While many locations use signs or tape on the ground to show people how close they should get in checkout lines, sometimes people are left hoping they're far enough apart. Experiments with Google has a new service called Sodar designed specifically to help people maintain that 6-foot perimeter.

Sodar uses WebXR to allow people to visualize social distancing guidelines in their environment. The augmented reality app displays a two-meter radius ring around the user. Anything inside that ring is too close for social distancing mandates. Some, however, may feel like they're able to judge a distance of 6 feet without the help of an augmented reality app.

Visualizing the 6-foot distance can be difficult, particularly in a crowded area. For those who may be particularly susceptible to coronavirus/COVID-19, Google's new tool is very welcome. One major caveat for Sodar is that it only functions for Android devices using Chrome. iOS users are unable to use Sodar at this time, and there is no indication that it will come to iOS at a later date. Android users with Chrome installed can go to the webpage and scan a QR code to visit the mobile site to use Sodar.

People around the world have had to change the way they go about their daily lives during the coronavirus pandemic, and tools like Sodar are helping people change. Part of the change involved more people working and learning from home, leading to the rapid growth of cloud and video conferencing services. Microsoft reported a 775% surge in demand for Microsoft Azure Cloud. The number of people shopping from home has also surged, leaving staples like cleaning supplies and toilet paper hard to find online. Growing demand for online shopping has even delayed deliveries from major online retailers like Amazon.