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SYFY WIRE Technology

Turn phone photos into a Jurassic playground with Google’s new AR dinosaur viewer

By Benjamin Bullard
Jurassic World T Rex

Wanna park a T-rex in your driveway? Make a Brachiosaurus the tallest landmark on your lawn? Put an artificially oversized Stegosaurus in the middle of the freeway? Thanks to a reptilian new enhancement to Google’s search features, creating your own Jurassic world is now just a tap away.

Adding to its growing list of AR animal add-ons, the search giant has partnered with Universal Brand Development, Amblin Entertainment, and Jurassic World Alive game maker Ludia to bring 10 augmented-reality dinos to any environment that you photograph — whether it be your kitchen table, a busy street, or your front yard.

These aren’t just static, low-rent images of dinosaurs, either; Google’s starting team of dino all-stars will come to life, moving around in any compatible video you place them in, making for the kind of epic crossovers from pre-history into the present day, as teased in the clip below:

Yes, just like Sir Richard Attenborough's John Hammond, you too can now turn to your awestruck companions and whisper, “We have a T-rex.” Google already lets you put cats on skyscrapers, tigers on your sofa, and sharks in your cereal bowl — all scaled up or down to match their new surroundings. But the new dino feature adds 10 extinct species to that list, including Tyrannosaurus rex, Velociraptor, Triceratops, Spinosaurus, Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Pteranodon, and Parasaurolophus.

To tap into the modern-day magic, simply use Google on your mobile device to search for one of the 10 dinosaur species, picking the one you like by tapping “View in 3D” for a 360-degree view. Follow the on-screen instructions from there (check Google’s how-to page for specific instructions for Android and iOS devices), and then sit back and watch your new dino buddy dominate the scenery. You can also make your own dino-populated AR videos — or even “recreate your favorite scenes from the Jurassic World movies,” says Google, by using the included recording option.

The new feature utilizes the same technology used to render dinosaurs in Ludia’s Jurassic World Alive game, overcoming a unique size limitation by deploying a new auto-scale tool (so far available only on Android) that automatically resizes the animals to fit on your screen — regardless of whether it’s a zoomed-out picture of a forest or a zoomed-in photo of your bookshelf. You can also select the “view actual size” option to get an AR-assisted peek at how those fearsome, pack-hunting Velociraptors from Jurassic Park would really look if they were stalking around in your kitchen.