Use Google And A Smartphone To Bring 3D Animals Into Your Living Room

Use Google And A Smartphone To Bring 3D Animals Into Your Living Room
That’s an eagle. On my sunporch. (Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert)

If you—or your kids—have ever wondered how big a wolf, a shark or a tiger really is out in the wild, Google has a way to bring their 3D animated image right into your home. All you need is a little curiosity, a browser and an ARCore or ARKit-ready iPhone or Android phone.

We stumbled upon this feature when Zach Klein posted on Twitter that he stumbled upon it when he Googled “How big is a wolf?” for his five-year-old son.

Turns out, you don’t even need to Google the whole question, just the name of the animal you want to see. If you’re not sure whether your phone is ARCore or ARKit-ready (meaning it can use the phone’s camera to add computer-generated elements to your environment), just open your phone’s browser and search for “wolf” or “lion.” If your phone has the capability, you’ll see this “View in 3D” option near the top of the search results:

Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert

The lion will even be moving around, flicking its tail and yawning a bit. Once you click on “View in 3D,” the animal will appear, animated, on your screen. You can select “AR” at the top to place the animal into your surroundings or “object” to simply see it move on a blank white background.

I personally found that searches for wolf, tiger, bear, lion, horse, dog, eagle and shark all worked. And there are more: Scott Stein at Cnet also had luck with giant panda, alligator, penguin, Shetland pony, pug, raccoon and macaw. It sadly did not work for porcupine, fox, owl, hippo, cow, pig, hawk or bat. (OK, I was kind of glad it didn’t work for bat.) Ask your kids what animal they’d like to pose with and search to see if it’s available.

Keep in mind that this is not a perfect science; depending on your position or location, the animal might end up obviously too big or definitely too small. I took pictures all around my home and found that if I was sitting down, the animal loomed over me to a ridiculous degree.

That is one VERY large wolf and one uncharacteristically unconcerned terrier. (Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert)

Once I stood up and started over, the world made sense again:

Good boy. Gooooood boy. (Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert)

Also, if the landscape was too wide open, objects ended up much smaller than they should be, I assume because the phone didn’t have enough environmental clues for scale. The shark in my backyard looked more like a fish. In my living room, though, things got real.

Yes, my dog lies perched in that chair all day like the king that he is. (Screenshot: Meghan Moravcik Walbert)

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work with dinosaurs. (I tried tyrannosaurus, stegosaurus and velociraptor with no results.) My son really would have enjoyed seeing a T-Rex in the dining room after school. But even so, I’m confident he will enjoy watching a penguin or an alligator saunter down our street tonight.

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