Google’s new Visual Positioning System takes learning, navigation to new levels

io 2017 augmented reality google vps 2
As Google rolls out a slew of new features for Android and Daydream, one stood out as a triumphant convergence of a number of projects from parent company Alphabet, including Project Tango, Google Maps, and Lens. It’s called the Visual Positioning System, or VPS, and it uses internal sensors and cameras to help you navigate the world around you.

The practical use is simple, even if the underlying technology isn’t. Users can walk into a store and point their phone’s camera in front of them. After identifying what it is you’re looking for, VPS will kick in, using visual data and previous sessions to point you in the right direction. Google showed it off in a hardware store, but it’s not hard to imagine how the technology could be extended to malls, large stadiums, theme parks, or museums.

io 2017 augmented reality google vps 1

As it turns out, learning is one of the main goals for the VPS, as well as Google’s augmented reality plans at large. Through what Google is calling Expeditions, kids, and really any curious minds, can explore intangible or difficult to visualize scientific concepts as if they were right in front of them.

While Expeditions has been around for two years, it was previously based on virtual reality utilizing Google Cardboard. Now, using compatible phones, students were shown wandering about a classroom examining lungs, volcanoes, and strands of DNA. Google says the tech works as described now, and the Asus Zenphone coming later this year will be the first to implement the new and improved Project Tango.

While it may not seem like the most exciting tech, Google’s VPS takes the troubled Project Tango and cements it into a real, usable feature with a huge amount of potential. Beyond just preventing everyday users from awkward conversation about where to find “that one thing with the handles” at Costco, it could help users with limited sight or mobility navigate complex areas, or bring artwork and learning experiences into classrooms where they might not fit through the door.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Bosch, Daimler team up to deploy autonomous Mercedes-Benz S-Classes in San Jose

In 1986, when Bosch and Daimler joined an autonomous car research project, the technology seemed overly futuristic. Now, the partners are aiming to make a production self-driving car by the early 2020s.
Gaming

Remember the ‘Titan’? Half of Blizzard’s games never see the light of day

Blizzard has revealed in an interview with Game Informer that about half of its total projects are ultimately canceled rather than released. The studio is currently working on multiple games.
Emerging Tech

Follow the yellow brick road? New pee-based ‘bio-bricks’ cut construction costs

University of Cape Town graduate students recently revealed the results of a long-term project: bio-bricks created from human urine, sand, and bacteria. Bio-bricks harden at room temperature and can be made in any shape and strength.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Deals

Bigger than Black Friday: Don’t miss the best Single’s Day deals

Thanks to AliExpress, Single's Day – the world's largest retail day – is no longer a foreign affair. If you're ready to do some early holiday shopping or want to score some discounts ahead of Black Friday, we've rounded up some of the…
Product Review

It's so fast it has a clip-on fan. But the Asus ROG phone isn't just for gamers

Is a gaming smartphone only something a mobile gamer should consider buying? In the case of the Asus ROG Phone, the good news is the device is so capable, and a genuinely impressive all-rounder, that everyone should take a closer look…
Mobile

Our favorite ebook reader is not a Kindle. Here are all the best options

If you're a bookworm, an ebook reader can be an important part of your life, one that allows you to read your books whenever and wherever you like. But which should you get? Here are five of the best ebook readers available.
Mobile

Samsung made a $2,700 flip phone with the brains of a smartphone

The Samsung W2019 is a high-end flip phone that comes with flagship specifications such as 6GB of RAM and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845. The device features a pair of S-AMOLED displays, a dual rear camera setup, and an eye-popping price tag.
Mobile

Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei face off in an Android battle royale

The good news is that there are some great options in the Android smartphone market right now. The bad news is that too much choice makes it tough to decide. We compare the Pixel 3 XL, the Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6T, and the Mate 20 Pro.
Mobile

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Mobile

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.
Mobile

Google’s Gboard now uses A.I. to recommend GIFs based on your conversation

Google is bringing a new feature to Gboard that should make it better for those that regularly use GIFs and stickers. The feature essentially uses A.I. to recommend GIFs and stickers based on your conversation.