Google adds NASA artifacts, prehistoric creatures to its AR library

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Google is bringing new museum exhibits to life with AR.
Image: Google

Google is on a quest to keep users entertained with immersive augmented reality (AR) models of everything from tigers to dinosaurs. Now, it is collaborating with museums around the world to bring virtual NASA artifacts and renditions of prehistoric creatures to its Arts and Culture app. Users will be able to view the items with an AR-compatible smartphone.

It’s the perfect way to engage people with bits of the past while many museums remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as some start to reopen, they aren’t as accessible as they once were. Google’s new AR exhibits give everyone a chance to see some awesome stuff from the safety of their own home.

All Natural

Google made waves when it originally added several modern-day animals to its Search tool. Users are able to view a life-sized version of them in AR. This lets people invite tigers into the backyard and wolves into the living room.

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Now, people have the chance to meet an even stranger creature—the Cambropachycope. The ancient crustacean is one of Earth’s oldest and weirdest organisms. Its distinctive pointy head is covered in tiny eyes.

Google collaborated with Moscow’s State Darwin Museum and London’s Natural History Museum to bring an array of prehistoric animals back to life. Users can see how they look in the real world by using their phone’s AR features.

Meanwhile, Google also added exhibits from the modern era like an AR replica of the 25.2-meter-long blue whale skeleton that is suspended from the ceiling in the London Natural History Museum.

Immersive History and Culture

For those who aren’t a fan of natural exhibits, there are plenty of other things to experience. Google is adding artworks and cultural artifact replicas that users can explore in AR.

There are several art exhibits to behold, including self-portraits from Frida Kahlo and Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss.” Once users place the AR art within a room, they can take photos or film it.

Cultural exhibits include the pre-Inca “smiling god” Lanzón from 500 BCE. Another thing to explore is the Apollo 11 Command Module. Users can render the famous spacecraft in their backyard to see how big it is.

How to Use Google’s Arts and Culture App

There are plenty of reasons to explore the Google Arts and Culture app. It features tons of interactive content and exhibits from museums and historical sites around the world. The app is also making use of AR and artificial intelligence (AI) more frequently.

For instance, Google added a photo filter tool to the app in April that uses AI to edit user photos in the style of famous painters.

Although the company didn’t specifically state what hardware is required to view its latest museum exhibits, previous AR features have required an ARCore-supported Android device or an iPhone running iOS 11 or later. There is no reason to believe those requirements are different.

To see the new exhibits, simply search for “AR” in the Arts and Culture app and then tap “View in Augmented Reality” on the page of the exhibit you want to explore.

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