How to Summon AR Ghosts With a Google Search

How to Summon AR Ghosts With a Google Search
Screenshot: Brendan Hesse

Halloween is my favourite holiday, but just like everything else in 2020, this year won’t be as festive for most of us. If you’re starved for some good-natured spooky vibes, you can try banishing the blah by summoning a ghost or reanimated skeleton to dance for you — digitally, at least.

Google has added a handful of seasonally-appropriate characters to its 3D model library just in time for Halloween. The models are viewable in augmented reality on most iOS and Android devices, but you need to intone the proper incantation search for the right keywords in the Google Search app or via Google’s website on your mobile browser to summon them.

Screenshot: Brendan Hesse Screenshot: Brendan Hesse

According to TechCrunch, “Halloween” is the most reliable search term and should invoke and dancing ghost, but other possible hits include:

  • Skeleton
  • Pumpkin
  • Jack-o’-lantern
  • Ghost
  • Costume
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Pirate
  • Hot dog

Basically, if you search for something Halloween-related, you should be able to find the models. Here’s a quick walkthrough for how to materialise them in augmented reality:

  1. Perform the search, then scroll through the results.
  2. Google will ask if you want to “Summon up a 3D ghost.”
  3. Tap “View in 3D” to confirm and wait for the model to load. You can also select one of the other models from the bottom menu.
  4. Depending on the device you use, you may have to look around the room with your device to find the ghost, or tap to “View in your Space.”

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Your cyber-séance is accompanied by music in the background, which adds some spooky atmosphere. You can snap a photo or record a video of your undead and/or costumed animal friends to share with your real-life human ones, too.

Google’s AR Halloween experiences won’t replace costume parties or ornately decorated lawns, but they’re better than nothing. If you’re looking for more Halloween-themed AR distractions, Amazon has a “carvable” digital pumpkin hidden on its new boxes (it’s also available online), and Netflix’s app can turn your home into a virtual “cute scary” haunted house on Halloween.

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