Be a ‘Tiger King’ without risking life and limb with Google’s AR function

Calling all average Joe Exotics.

Isolationist animal lovers are becoming their own “Tiger Kings,” minus the mauling risk (or serial philandering), by using Google’s augmented reality function to turn their homes into a virtual menagerie.

The nifty feature debuted last year but is currently gaining popularity as people seek new ways to stave off the coronavirus doldrums during lockdown.

“You can view and interact with 3D objects right from Search and place them directly into your own space, giving you a sense of scale and detail,” wrote Google Lens and AR VP Aparna Chennapragada on the company blog preceding the product’s launch. The immersive function allows users to summon an assortment of 3D exotic animals, including tigers, penguins, sharks, Shetland ponies, hedgehogs and more. 

Want to have a pet tiger in your bedroom a la polyamorous big cat wrangler Joe Exotic? Simply Google “tiger” on a smartphone or tablet whereupon the option to “meet a life-sized tiger up close” will appear in the search results. Clicking on “view in 3D,” and then “move your phone” will prompt the jungle predator’s snarling, panting 3D facsimile to materialize in the spot of the user’s choosing.

Bored social-media users are having a ball with it.

Has the local aquarium shuttered over social-distancing concerns? Use the function to make an octopus’ digital doppelganger appear as if it’s swimming around the bathtub.

COVID-caged bird watchers can convert their homes into an aviary by conjuring virtual parrots like a Pokemon trainer. The smartphone’s scroll function allows virtual animal whisperers to relocate the animal or to change its dimensions from pocket-sized to as a big as a house.

Best of all, this digital Dr. Doolittling is educational. “It’s one thing to read that a great white shark can be 18 feet long. It’s another to see it up close in relation to the things around you,” reads the press release.

Users can see if the Google AR animals function is available on their devices by checking whether they’ve installed the Google Play Services for AR app.

Turning one’s room into a virtual zoo isn’t the only inventive way people are keeping themselves entertained while under virus-induced house arrest.

Bored quarantiners have resorted to everything from flirting with their neighbors using drones to smearing fake poop on their kids and filming their reactions to ward off the coronavirus cabin fever.

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