Skip to main content

Google Touts AR as Your Indoor Guide

Mapping applications can help you find your way to a store. Google wants to use augmented reality to help you find what you're looking for once you're there.

An example of how VPS helps you navigate indoors (Credit:Google)

An example of how VPS helps you navigate indoors (Credit:Google)

Google calls the feature VPS, a version of GPS that stands for Visual Positional Service. The software giant announced during its I/O developer conference today (May 17) that it's building VPS into its Project Tango efforts, which incorporates augmented reality features into mobile devices without the need for add-on headsets.

With VPS, Google says, your phone will be able to quickly and accurate understand its location when its indoors the same way your device can already pinpoint your location on a map.

MORE: VR Mega Guide: Features and Release Dates

Clay Bavor, Google's vice president of virtual reality, explained how VPS will work in an example that will resonate with anyone who's ever worked on a home improvement project. With VPS, when you arrived at a big-box store like Loew's, instead of going from aisle to aisle looking for a specific tool, you could whip out your Tango-enabled phone to get visual cues to lead you to the right location.

"GPS will get you to the door," Bavor said. "VPS will get you exactly to the item you're looking for."

Navigating your way through a store provides an easy-to-understand use case for VPS. But Google thinks the feature has broader implications; Bavor mentioned that it could be used to help people with visual impairments get around just as an example.

The first Tango device, Lenovo's Phab 2 Pro, debuted last year. Another device, Asus ZenFone AR, was unveiled at CES this January, and will go on sale this summer, according to Bavor.

Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.