Gorillaz Are Performing an AR Concert With Google Tech

The virtual band has a virtual performance this weekend in New York and London, using a downloadable app.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
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Gorillaz performers as cartoons standing in front of New York City's Times Square.

A location-based AR concert featuring Gorillaz is happening via a phone app.

Gorillaz / Google

Google doesn't have a consumer pair of AR glasses on the horizon yet, but the company keeps experimenting with AR tools on phones. A virtual Gorillaz performance in New York City and London is the latest location-based AR experiment, a trend that's been growing over the past few years in mobile apps. The Gorillaz single Skinny Ape is getting its own concert via the band's Gorillaz Presents app, developed along with Google to showcase an AR concert performance over the weekend.

The experience is being "live performed"  in Times Square at 2:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 17 and in Piccadilly Circus at 2:00 p.m. GMT on Dec. 18, using Google's own map-connected AR technology (called ARCore Geospatial API). After the performance, it'll still be viewable, or for anyone else the experience is designed to show up in-app so it can appear in your own space.

The concert uses a new location-based Google AR tool announced at the company's developer conference earlier this year, which leans on Google Maps data and GPS coordinates to overlay persistent AR into the real world. The actual location-based experience is meant to blend parts of the actual landscape into the performance, in what sounds a bit like a real-life version of Travis Scott's Fortnite performance a few years back.

Companies including Snap, Niantic, Microsoft and Apple have been showcasing experiments in location-based AR using real-world locations and even layering over specific geographies and landmarks. The Gorillaz concert experiment fits right in with those types of efforts, but also hints at how plenty of major tech companies are trying to figure out persistent AR in the real world ahead of a wave of expected AR glasses that are still being figured out.