Want to ensure that you’re practicing social distancing in the time of COVID? Now there’s an app for that! Well, it’s technically not an app, but a browser tool that will help you follow social distancing guidelines. Called ‘Sodar‘, it is an augmented reality (AR) software by Google, and is expected to help users follow social distancing rules when they’re out and about. According to Google, Sodar will create a virtual social distancing ring around you. The ring will have a 2 meter (~6.5 feet) radius according to the recommendations of experts and health agencies.
As mentioned already, Sodar is not a standalone app, but works from the browser on mobile devices. According to Google, users will have to open up a dedicated website – sodar.withgoogle.com – on their mobile browser to get started. Unfortunately, it is only available on a handful of Android devices running Google Chrome, so you can’t check it out from your iPhone with Safari. There’s no immediate word on whether it will be expanded to include more platforms and browsers going forward.
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
Sodar uses a relatively new technology called WebXR to add AR imagery to the real world. It was included in Chrome 79 last December. Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t seem to be working on all Android devices, and I couldn’t get it to work on my phone even after granting all the permissions it asked for. Some reports suggest that the devices need to be ARCore compatible for the feature to work, but Google is yet to announce anything officially on that front.
As you can see from the GIF above, Sodar is actually a pretty cool tool to follow social distancing guidelines. So if your phone is compatible, give it a shot and let us know how it goes.