Notes on Google I/O 2023: AR, Material 3, ChromeOS Kiosk

Google I/O 2023 developer conference materials are available online free of charge. Back when they were in-person events with an admission fee, I never felt I would benefit enough to be worth the cost and effort. But now the price is but a few hours of my time. I looked around to see what information I can absorb. I started with sessions that were just for curiosity, with no short-term plans to get hands-on.

What’s new in Google AR

I examined Google’s ARKit earlier with an interest in adopting its structure-from-motion capabilities for robotics projects. I had hoped its “recognize things in the room for users to interact” capability can be used for a robot “recognize things in the room so robot doesn’t run into them.” The two intents were different enough I didn’t see a promising path forward. I thought I’d watch this presentation to see if that has changed. The answer is “No”, but it was still fun to see what they’re up to.

This video explained they are focusing on users wandering outdoors in an urban environment. Think Google Street View but augmented in 3D with “Streetscape Geometry”. Their updated “Geospatial Depth” and “Scene Semantics API” are optimized to work with street scale landmarks, not indoor rooms like I wanted for my robots. There’s a separate session on the “Geospatial Creator” tool available to create AR content at this scale. As part of I/O they’ve released an AR demo “Mega Golf” that lets you play a game of golf through your real-world cityscape. Another showcase sometime later this year will be an Pokemon-Go style AR update to an old classic with “Space Invaders World Defence.” I’ll probably give those apps a whirl but won’t do much more until/unless a cool project idea arises.

What’s New in Material Design

I’ve long been fascinated watching Google evolve their “Material Design.” Their latest push is in creating “Spirited UI” to evoke positive user emotions via animation. They’re also making an emphasis on letting individual designer establish their own unique look, deviating from rigid design rules. “Instead of laying down rules, it’s laying down a beat.”

I got pretty lost in the artistic design language, but I understood the engineering aspects. The primary platform for this design team is Android Jetpack Compose, followed by View and Flutter. Web is… somewhere after that and not mentioned in the presentation. I keep an eye out for future developments.

Developing Kiosk Apps for ChromeOS

I’ve been interested in building web apps for single focused tasks. My Compass practice project is pretty kiosk-ish with its singular focus and full-screen experience. There was also an experiment earlier investigating using a Raspberry Pi to serve up a kiosk experience. I wanted to check out what ChromeOS has to offer on this front.

I only got partway through the session, stopping after they listed a ChromeOS management license requirement to enable kiosk functionality. Either Chrome Enterprise (nope) Chrome Education (nope) or a Kiosk & Signage license at $25 per device per year. More than I’m willing to pay for idle curiosity, so I’m moving onwards to other presentations.

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