Gamers, anime fans, and those with an interest in Japanese culture are in for an AR treat courtesy of Google.
On Tuesday, the company added 14 3D renditions of popular Japanese characters, headlined by pop culture icons Pac-Man and Hello Kitty, to its roster of augmented reality content available in Google Search.
In addition to Pac-Man and Hello Kitty, you can view Ultraman, Ultraman Zero, Ultraman Belial, Gomorra, Evangelion (Evangelion Unit 1), Gundam (Odusseus Gundam, Kusui Gundam, Penelope), Kogimyun, Taiko Master, Pompompurin, and Little Twin Stars.
Some of the characters come with special animations or sound effects. For instance, Pac-Man gobble dots while being chased by ghosts, while Hello Kitty greats you in Japanese and English. Each of the AR characters can be scaled in size and captured in photos or videos for sharing elsewhere, but the additional effects could make for some interesting social content.
"Japan's anime and video game culture emerged between the 1950s and the 1980s, as comic books, gaming arcades and home TVs and consoles boomed. But it wasn't just a Japanese phenomenon," said Arisa Toyosaki of Google Japan, in a statement. "The most iconic characters caught people's imaginations around the world, and they're still hugely popular today."
The AR characters are accessible by searching for the target character through the Google app and Android browsers on ARCore-compatible phones.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you'll need the Google app and an ARKit-compatible device.
After starting out with animals, Google has steadily expanded its library of AR content in Search, with help from content publishers like NASA and brands like Target, Adidas, and Volvo. Baby Yoda has even made his way to AR via Search.
The latest addition of AR characters comes on the heels of a Pizza Hut promotion that turns Pac-Man into AR. With location-based AR games in the style of Pokémon GO planned for Hello Kitty and Pikmin, this probably won't be the last time we see some od the most popular Japanese video game and animation characters pop up in AR.
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