Google is once again experimenting with augmented reality by trying to make it more mainstream. The tech giant has announced Article, a new 3D model viewer that not only runs on Chrome, but also on all other web browsers.

“In the next few months, there will be hundreds of millions of Android and iOS devices that are able to provide augmented reality experiences - meaning you'll be able to look at the world through your phone, and place digital objects wherever you look,” Google’s Reza Ali and Josh Carpenter wrote in a blog post. “To help bring this to as many users as possible, we've been exploring how to bring augmented reality to the web platform, so someday anyone with a browser can access this new technology.”

How does Google Article work? The new prototype lets developers create 3D models that can be downloaded on mobile devices. Users will then be able to place those 3D models in real-life environments using their device’s camera. Think of it as an augmented reality experience that runs natively on a phone’s web browser.

The experience on smartphones is pretty similar to what users can expect from a full fledged smartphone AR app. The 3D objects can be placed in real life environments using the device’s cameras and built-in sensors.

“When Article is loaded on an AR-capable device and browser, an AR button appears in the bottom right. Tapping on it activates the device camera, and renders a reticle on the ground in front of the user,” Ali and Carpenter said. “When the user taps the screen, the model sprouts from the reticle, fixed to the ground and rendered at its physical size. The user can walk around the object and get a sense of scale and immediacy that images and video alone cannot convey.”

When a 3D model is loaded on a desktop browser, it will be displayed as an interactive image that can be dragged and rotated by the user. When these 3D objects are embedded in a webpage, it can be animated like a GIF to indicate that it is indeed a 3D object, according to The Verge.

This new prototype makes it easy to imagine websites adopting AR technology. Currently, there’s no standard yet for web-based AR, and Google appears to be spearheading the movement with the development of Article. With Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit, augmented reality on smartphones is becoming more and more commonplace. But bringing it to all web browsers makes AR more accessible to everyone.

Article is just one of Google’s many experiments in trying to bring AR to web browsers and other developers can try it now for themselves by going to this website.

Google Article Google Article brings augmented reality (AR) experiences to mobile web browsers. Photo: Google