Over the past nine years, Google and its affiliates have been distributing collectible pens with Android characters to the participants at the Mobile World Congress. They are fun, cute and often create a lively collector's scene. Collect all and you can buy cool Google products.
The pins are back for 2019, but they are also connected through Augmented Reality (AR) pins, which are retrieved and collected in an AR app. But it is far from a frivolous waste of time for those who should work. It's a demonstration of what realistic augmented reality maps, navigation and information might look like in the future.
First of all we want to talk about the functionality of the app and the AR-elements. At MWC 201
9, outside of Google's own stand and various top partners, there are AR markers that look like QR codes on the floor. Use the Android Partner Walk app to scan these codes with your phone's camera to view and collect AR versions of the physical Android pins. All you need is an AR-Core enabled smartphone and the right app.
The experience is similar to Google Pixel's use of the funny AR elements with Star Wars and other characters. The Android characters are well animated 3D creations, often complete with sound. Once you've admired it, you can add the character to your collection with just a tap. Think of it as Pokémon Go but with Android characters and less running around.
It's all on the surface, but it's exciting what happens next. The app gives hints and instructions on where the next PIN, in AR on the screen, should be collected with directional markers. It's Google Maps, at the local level and in augmented reality.
Simplified Logical Navigation
We talked to Google's director of VR / AR design, Joshua To, about how the AR pins at MWC help show what's going to happen in the future. He said the technology is similar to that of Google, the recently released AR Walk feature that undergoes beta testing. These are not just QR codes on the floor, they are procedurally generated tags that understand their location so they can be routed from the app to the next PIN.